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THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 
(EUGÉNIE DE MONTIJO) 




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THE LIFE 
OF AN EMPRESS 

(EUGÉNIE DE MONTIJO) 



FRÉDÉRIC LOUEE 

AUTHOR OF « WOMEN OF THE SECOND EMPIRE ' 



ENGLISH VERSION BY BRYAN O'DONNELL 



; 



EVELEIGH NASH 

Fawside House 
London 

1908 



V 



RMKU8 MM 



Richard Clay & Sons, Limited 

BREAD STREET HILL, E.C., AND 
BUNGAY, SUFFOLK. 



PREFACE 

These final pages are written as a necessary 
conclusion to our trilogy of the women of the 
Second Empire. Having sketched the pictures 
of Court and Society with a pen as discreet as 
possible, although by some it has been termed 
a frivolous pen, we had to determine in a wider 
manner the historical bearing of an important 
personality. Through circumstances, more than 
by her own will, she was the leading figure among 
the women of that Court and of that Society, 
and her position as such was naturally due 
to her sovereign rank, her influence for good 
or evil, and the extraordinary series of fate- 
ful events in which she took part. This is an 
opportune time for recalling the career of such a 
personality, because we have not yet reached the 
period when gossip and reiterations of a common- 
place nature shall run their free course unfettered 
by the hand of fate. 

We dispose of such information and authentic 
data as enable us to undertake our task without 
fear. Yet the subject of this study is so near to 
us, and reasons of reserve and propriety, of his- 
torical hesitation, so to speak, have so carefully 



30 



VI 



PREFACE 



shaded it from the lurid light of publicity, that it 
has all the seduction of novelty. That novelty can- 
not long endure because narratives, memoirs and 
similar publications are about to see the light 
of day. 

Our views upon this matter have been shared 
by others. During the latter part of 1906, two 
volumes of monographs upon the Empress 
Eugénie were published in England — compact 
works, confined to well-known generalities, and so 
evidently inspired by a desire of complete com- 
placency towards one whose merits are being 
sung, that the two books seem to be the replicas 
of the one model. 

Does this long and well-filled life offer no more 
matter of interest than three or four salient points 
which have been worked out and dwelt upon with 
the greatest minutia, viz. the family history of the 
Empress, her coming to Paris, her conquest of a 
spouse and of a throne, her marriage, her existence 
at Court, during her regency throughout the war 
and through her long years of exile ? We think 
that the picture needs retouching so that it may 
afford a complete and faithful likeness. 

Thus we have obtained from Emile Ollivier 
himself, from his own lips, the solution to the 
secret of the last act, the key to the painful 
enigma that was to drag the Empire and France 
into the mire. 

The happy days of the Empire were minutely 
chronicled in so far as intimate and external 



PREFACE vii 

matters were concerned. We have had the 
opportunity of reading some of its uncut pages. 
We have studied closely the manuscript notes 
forgotten at the Tuileries, which recorded the 
observations of their writer, Bernard Bauer, a 
Court preacher most eloquent in the pulpit, most 
persuasive in the drawing-room. 

There was no lack of strange physiognomies 
in this new-born society which had crowded the 
road to power upon the accession of the Bona- 
partist régime. 

Among them were many as complicated and as 
troubling as that of the Abbé Bauer, formerly 
dubbed " Monsioqior." His existence was made 

o 

up of a series of evolutions and transformations. 
Born a German and a Jew, he became a Catholic 
monk, and carried the word of Christ throughout 
the Breton villages. He had wished to bury 
himself in the cloister. He left the cloister. 
The whilom Carmelite monk, with deep-set 
eyes and sunken cheeks, became later the 
cynosure of every woman's eye at brilliant, 
worldly gatherings, where he displayed all 
the charms of a fashionable ecclesiastic, playing 
to the life the part of a red-heeled prelate in 
the by-gone days of the monarchy. Pure 
mysticism had so far possessed all the faculties 
of his soul as to immobilize them in dream 
and ecstasy. Then the ardent flames of the 
neophite flickered under the breath of human 
passions, growing dull, languid, almost extinct. 



viii PREFACE 

Towards the end of his life, when religion or the 
commerce of human beings had nothing more to 
teach him, the late Imperial chaplain, henceforth 
as sceptical as he had been enthusiastic, will throw 
off his sacerdotal garb ; the late man of the world, 
pleasant and benevolent in private intercourse, 
will take the place of the quondam priest by the 
side of a young, beautiful and intelligent wife, 
whom he has married in the sere and yellow of 
his days. To her he will look for warmth and 
affection, that heretofore had found no place in the 
rarefied atmosphere in which he moved. When 
he crossed the threshold of the Tuileries for the 
first time, he had just returned from Rome, 
bearing the highest recommendations of the 
Pontifical Court. The letters in his possession 
and his fame for eloquence were not the only 
titles that Bernard Bauer could invoke with 
Eugénie de Montijo. He was personally known 
to her, and she remembered his brother, a prince 
of finance, the Rothschild of Madrid. Bauer was 
chosen to preach the Lent in 1866 before their 
Majesties. Public curiosity ran high, for Madrid 
and Vienna, where he had made his début in 
the pulpit, treasured recollections of him, which, 
added to the mysterious legend of his conversion 
to Catholicism, lent much importance to his name. 
For a time he was held in the highest favour. 
The Empress afforded him numerous proofs of 
her sympathy. The Emperor, whose religious 
convictions were, to say the least, lukewarm, 



PREFACE ix 

could not escape the charm and the power of his 
word. Above all things, Napoleon admired his 
zeal in charitable intercession, which urged the 
priest to multiply his efforts in behalf of the 
afflicted poor. The Sovereign conceived a scheme 
of public relief, the administration of which he 
meant to entrust to Monsignor Bauer. Rome 
had conferred upon him the insignia of the prelacy, 
and Paris proclaimed him the ablest and most 
popular of preachers. It is little wonder that such 
a vivid imagination as his, so excitable a nature, 
should have been sorely tried by such a quick 
succession of incredible successes. A Queen in 
all the radiancy of youth and glory bowed her head 
under this sacerdotal hand, whispered her secret 
fears into the ear of this upstart priest, telling him 
her most intimate woes, relating her moments of 
weakness, and seeking from him both light and 
peace. He directed the minds and consciences 
of the most beautiful women in the capital. He 
was the chosen confidant of weakest hearts 
residing in loveliest frames. At first they repaired 
as pilgrims to his humble apartment in the 
Carmelites' convent, and then foregathered in 
the handsome house he took in the Rue Saint 
Florentin, close to the Rothschild mansion. His 
house, whither women went in long processions, 
was termed by the people " the little church." 
It was well-nigh impossible to live in such an 
intoxicating atmosphere without suffering from 
vertigo. That atmosphere cost him his fortune 



x PREFACE 

and wrecked his future. Imprudences and indis- 
cretions were soon laid at his door. He was too 
much in evidence, and had lost his former simplicity. 
His affected manners, acquired in his constant 
communion with women, were severely criticized ; 
so were the dandyish cut of his cassocks and the 
erotic perfumes he was wont to use. 

The Empress Eugénie had cleverly widened 
the distance that separated her from the chaplain. 
She did not discard him completely : this would 
have been difficult to effect, for had he not been 
her chosen confessor in her hours of melancholy ? 
She had not forgotten the day when he met her in 
Scotland, travelling under an official pretext, but 
in reality seeking to heal her soul of the wounds 
inflicted upon it by the betrayal of her hearth. 
Better than any man, Bauer could analyze the 
slightest impressions of the proud soul of Eugénie. 
So after years of silence and oblivion, he wished 
to commit in these scattered notes the minute his- 
torical facts of which he had personal knowledge. 

In them we have found the echoes of conver- 
sations overheard, of unpublished anecdotes, of 
original reminiscences, and we have culled them 
from the narrative so that they may serve in their 
proper place as an ornament to this work and a 
recreation to its readers. It seems needless to add 
that, when dealing with the essential and living 
parts of our subject, we have gone to deeper and 
more authorized sources of information. 

For the last few years by-gone political passions 



PREFACE xi 

are analyzed in detail, as have also been the 
personages of the Second Empire, and it is patent 
that sincere efforts have been made to correct 
mistakes, and also to judge the rash acts of the 
Empress with more harshness than the heavy- 
mistakes of Napoleon. Devoted beings and 
faithful pens have struggled energetically to refute 
such imputations. With loyalty most admirable, 
they have pleaded all the circumstances that could 
deaden the blow of such accusations. They have 
failed, however, to secure the acquittal of Eugénie. 
It is only in the light of accurate facts, considered 
without the slightest prejudice, that one can fairly 
apportion the justice or otherwise of her interven- 
tion, direct or indirect, in the counsels of a State 
in which she was but the consort of its Chief. In 
such light must we tax her with, or relieve her of, 
all responsibility in causing the armed conflicts of 
her period. 

In this Life of an Empress, in which the narra- 
tive of events must bear a strange personal 
interest from end to end, we have endeavoured to 
prepare matter born of a healthy appreciation of 
simple facts, and to relate events as they came to 
pass, brilliant or disappointing, fortunate or tragic 
in their bearino-. 

o 

Frédéric Loliée. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Empress Eugénie (from a portrait by 
P. de Pommaigrari) 

The Birthplace of the Empress Eugénie . 

Eugénie de Montijo, in Spanish Costume 

The Empress in her Bridal Robes . 

The Imperial Wedding 

The Emperor and Empress 

The Empress Eugénie and her Maids of 
Honour 

The Birth of the Prince Imperial. 

The Emperor, the Empress, and - 
Prince Imperial .... 

The Emperor, the Empress, and - 
Prince Imperial, 1858 

Le Duc de Morny .... 

The Empress at Nancy in 1866 

Mgr. Bauer 

M. Emile Ollivier .... 

The Prince Imperial. 

The Princess Leopold of Hohenzollern 

Thk Emperor Napoleon (from a photograph 
by Dmvney) ...... 

The Empress Eugénie, 1873 (from a photo- 
graph by Downey) 

The Empress Eugénie (from a photograph 
taken at Paris, 1906) .... 



Frontispiece 




To/at 


epase 


13 




>> 
11 


36 

54 
60 
78 


» 


>> 


94 


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jj 


138 



>> >> 



142 

160 

196 

220 

234 

240 

250 
294 

340 

346 

400 




THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE. 
12, Calle de la Gracia, Granada. 




THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 



CHAPTER I 

The prophecy of a famous French writer, spoken by him in 1834 
in the salon of the Countess de Montijo — The daughters of 
Don Cipriano de Montijo, Eugénie and Francesca — Descrip- 
tion of their mother— Details concerning their childhood 
and education — From Paris to Madrid — Frequent voyages — 
Death of Count de Montijo — Return to France — Unpublished 
anecdotes. 

It was in 1834, in a Madrid drawing-room to 
which Stendhal had gained access through his 
friendship with Mérimée, that the famous man was 
wont to gambol with a pretty child born under 
the sky of Granada. Her graceful charms be- 
witched him. With a bitter smile, the sceptical 
thinker would often say to the child, as though 
speaking to himself — 

" When you grow up, you will marry the Mar- 
quis de Santa Cruz, and I shall think of you no 
more." 

True, Eugénie de Guzman, Countess of Teba, 
could aspire to this marquisate. The house from 
which she sprang basked in the glory of famous 
recollections, and as she was taught the alphabet, 
she learnt that among her ancestors was one 



14 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Alphonse Perez de Guzman, a hero whose deeds 
and prowess are sung to this day by the peasants 
of Andalusia ; that Gonzales of Cordova, known 
as "the great Captain," and Antoine de Levé, 
the ablest of Charles V's generals, were also among 
her forefathers. The young lady was not, however, 
to assume the name of Santa Cruz — a still more 
surprising fate was in store for her. On the day 
when her feeble cry was first heard, 1 amid the 
roars of thunder caused by the cataclysm that rent 
the soil of Granada and shook the earth, a mys- 
terious sign is said to have appeared above the 
cradle — a sign betokening the fact that, in order to 
die a Queen, you need not be born a Princess. 

The famous writer who had foretold the future 
of the youngest daughter of Countess de Montijo 
was a constant visitor at her house. He came 
regularly on stated days, took up his quarters in 
• the' drawing-room with the two children, Eugénie 
and 'Francesca, whose pet name was Pacca, and 

1 In 1867 the following inscription was placed upon the 
house where she was born : 12 Calle de Gracia, Granada — 

" In this house was born the illustrious 
Senora dona Eugenia de Guzman 
Y Porto-carrero, 
now Empress of the French. 
The municipality of Granada is conferring an honour 
upon itself by placing this commemoration stone in 
recollection of our famous townswoman. 
1867." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 15 

found in the child-like gaze and the interested, 
inquisitive expression of their little faces that 
inspiration which enabled him to unfold to them 
with eloquence the story of the great deeds of the 
Empire. He would hold them in awe with im- 
provised warmth as he sketched to them great 
pictures of conquest, relating episodes both true 
and legendary, and turning over with them the 
leaves of the epic of Napoleon. Designedly would 
he pass over in silence all matters of sad reality, 
the wholesale slaughter of peoples, the horror 
of the battle-field, the wailings and gnashings of 
humanity, caused by dread war. But he painted 
to them in vivid colours the glorious and flam- 
boyant aspect of these campaigns, to which he 
was well entitled to bear witness. The children 
drank in his words, wishing that they might never 
end, and when the clock recalled the lateness of 
the hour, Stendhal would tear himself away re- 
luctantly, promising to resume his story soon 
again. He was in the habit of bringing to them 
coloured pictures of the different incidents related 
in the heroic poem, with which he kindled their 
enthusiasm. Seventy years later Eugénie de 
Montijo can still show the picture of the battle of 
Austerlitz, the gift to her of " Monsieur Beyle." 
Her youth, her years of splendour in married life 
and the sad period that followed it have not yet 
dimmed the recollection, deep and tender, of 



i6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Stendhal, to whom she still refers as " Monsieur 
Beyle," just as she did in the days of her girlhood. 1 

"We looked forward with great joy to the 
evenings when he was expected at our mother's 
house, for we knew that on those days he would 
charm us with his vivid anecdotes, and that we 
should be allowed to stay up a little later." 

Thus she wrote to Count de Morile. In such 
ways did the girls imbibe the religion of the 
Empire, for which their souls had been prepared 
by the recollections of their father. That religion 
became the staple food of their minds. 

Stendhal was fond of travel. Through Italy 
and France he wandered, gathering on the way 
impressions of art and literature. His little friends 
did not forget him during his absences, and in 
their graceful, childish epistles they warned him 
that they would not allow him to forget them. 
This school-girls' correspondence reveals the great 
dissimilarity that existed between the two sisters. 
In the case of the one, political considerations 
obtain sway — considerations which in after life as 
a Sovereign were to occupy and preoccupy her 
mind to excess. 2 Her sister poured forth im- 

1 Stendhal was a nom de plume ; Beyle was his real name, 
under which he was introduced to the Countess de Montijo, 
and which he had reassumed on the fall of the Empire. 

2 Her political tendencies are well set forth in the following 
letter of Eugénie de Guzman, written to Henry Beyle in 
December 1839 — 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 17 

pressions of youth condign with her age and 
position. Speaking of others and herself with 
much frankness, she gave full vent to her senti- 
ments, and unwittingly provided indications pre- 
cious to history upon the mode of living under the 
maternal roof of a future Empress and her sister, 
upon their education and the way in which they 
spent their holidays. Often she would refer to 
the void created by the absence of their big friend 
from the country house, in which they had no 
other companion, for they desired none. 

"Sir, 

" I have read your letter with great pleasure, and await 
the coming of the year 1840 with keen impatience, since that 
year is to bring you back to us. You ask me what my present 
occupations are. I am learning to paint, and the rest of the 
time we work and laugh as usual. Mother still finds time to 
give us a few lessons, and we endeavour not to forget what we 
learnt in Paris. 

" Spain at present is much agitated ; a nation clamours for 
peace ; Marato, the Carlist General, has come over to Christina 
in consideration of a large handover — surely a mean and petty 
action. The subordinate officers have followed in his wake. 
Navarre, Alava, Guipuzcoa and Biscaya have recognized the 
legitimate queen. It is said that Don Carlos and the Duchess 
of Bura have fled to France. Cabrera has gone to Jaramon, 
and 200 horsemen are watching the enemy. In Madrid great 
festivals have been held in honour of the proclamation of 
peace, but so often has peace been proclaimed, that I am 
slow to believe it is yet an accomplished fact. However, 
every one yearns for peace. Mother, my sister and Miss Flower 
send their respectful regards, and I remain, Sir, your devoted 
and affectionate friend, 

" E. Guzman y Palafox." 



i8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

11 The young girls that we meet can only speak 
of dress, or if they change their conversation it is 
to slander and backbite one another, as is the wont 
of the sex. I do not like such friends, and when I 
am in their drawing-rooms, I only open my mouth 
to wish them good-day and good-bye." 

Paccaand Eugénie urged Stendhal to return to 
Madrid. At that time the attention of Europe 
was riveted upon a great event — the translation to 
Paris of Napoleon's ashes. How they yearned to 
witness this great function in the city that they 
knew, and of which Eugénie wrote at length to 
Prosper Mérimée, another intimate friend of her 
mother! In a letter to the sapient curator of the 
British Museum, Mérimée described his saunters 
along the Boulevard with the little Spanish girl 
of five or six years of age. At length he wrote 
about this child, ingenuous and bewitching, won- 
dering what would become of the sprightly mite, 
who bullied him and led him to the pastry- 
cook's as she would a victim to the altar. 

Eugénie and Francesca were the daughters of 
Don Cipriano de Portocarrero, who served in the 
armies of Napoleon, became Count of Teba in 
1 8 14, was grievously wounded in the battle of 
Salamanca, and was made Senator of Spain at the 
end of the reign of Ferdinand VII. He was also 
Marquis of Ardales and Grandee of Spain. 

Their mother, Marie Manuela de Kirkpatrick y 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 19 

Grivegnée, Countess of Teba and later of Montijo, 
occupied a brilliant social position. She was the 
most striking of three daughters, owing to the 
brilliancy of her eyes, the vivacity of her manner, 
and the gracefulness of her deportment. Her 
father was a Scotch merchant, one William Kirk- 
patrick, of Malaga, where his wine and fruit 
business did not cast a veil of oblivion upon 
his lineal parentage with the ancient Barons of 
Closeburn. Nay, more, a family tradition went so 
far as to claim the giant Finn Mac-Cual, king of 
the Fenians, as an ancestor of William Kirk- 
patrick. So when the Malaga merchant gives his 
daughter to a Spanish nobleman, who, like his 
fellow-peers, has more full titles than ducats, he 
can say to him, " You trace your ancestry to 
Alphonse XI, but I go back to Robert Bruce and 
Finn Mac-Cual, so I am sure His Majesty will be 
satisfied." This pious expression of opinion was 
repeated to Ferdinand VII. Genealogical docu- 
ments extolling the virtues of the Kirkpatricks, 
and hailing from the archives of Edinburgh, were 
submitted to the consideration of His Majesty. 

" It is our royal pleasure," said he, " to allow 
this worthy nobleman to marry the daughter of 
Fingal." 

Count de Montijo, brother of Cyprien, the 
prospective bridegroom, did not share his political 
opinions or his feelings of devotion towards 



2o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

France. A man of ungovernable temper, who 
had been christened the Spanish Mirabeau, he 
severely criticized the contemplated marriage, 
which, he said, would be a mésalliance for the 
Guzman family. His remonstrances were of no 
avail. Marie Manuela de Kirkpatrick became the 
Countess of Teba, and shortly afterwards her sister 
married the Count of Cabarrus. 

The marriage took place on December 15, 
1817. The following year George Ticknor, an 
American writer of much talent, said of the 
Countess of Teba, " She is without a doubt the 
most cultivated and intelligent woman in Spain." 

Private reasons, another name for family 
troubles in married life, caused their departure 
from Malaga for Granada, where the young 
couple took up their abode in the most fashion- 
able quarter of the town. There the spritely 
Malagena soon became the cynosure of every eye, 
the centre of attraction. 

Her beauty was both regular and striking. 
She was attractive mainly through that amenity 
so often found among Spanish women. She 
did not go through the period of human passions 
without causing a certain turmoil. In Madrid, 
indiscreet inquiries were made concerning the 
choice and nature of her sentiments, with the 
result that risky inductions and daring epilogues 
were indulged in, as to the extent of the intimacy 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 21 

exhibited by her with some of her followers, 
notably the Duke of Ossuna, who, later on, sought 
her second daughter in marriage. The Count de 
Lagrené, late French Ambassador to China, and 
Louis de Viel-Castel were also said to be among 
her elect. And while we are upon this chapter, 
we note that a certain famous name in England 
was freely linked to hers by the gossipers of the 
day. Truth to tell, she courted slander and laid 
herself open to its darts by the external expansion 
of her feelings and the intimacy she displayed in 
her relations towards certain friends. Her honour 
as a spouse and a mother was somewhat be- 
smirched. Perusers of private documents and 
diligent archive compilers went so far as to cast 
a doubt upon the legitimacy of her daughter 
Eugénie, whose certificate of birth will be found 
in the Appendix. 

The question raised about Eugenie's birth 
drives one's memory back to the countless number 
of equivocal births that occurred in the family of 
Bonaparte, to which she was to become allied. 

It was sought to prove 1 that the document 

concerning the births of the future Empress of 

the French and the future Duchess of Alba were 

1 I do not think the publication of this certificate necessary. 
It really conveys nothing different from any other certificate of 
birth. The value of the document means much to the living, 
but could only be vouchsafed for by the dead. — Tra?islator 's 
note. 



22 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

spurious, and related in reality to two daughters 
of the Countess of Montijo who had died in their 
cradles. It was urged that the certificates had been 
wilfully post-dated, and that Eugénie was twenty- 
nine, and not twenty-seven, when she married. 
There were daring allegations brought against the 
Duke of Ossuna, whom the Countess had favoured 
not wisely but too well, as had done other ladies 
of the Court. It was even freely stated that the 
Countess of Montijo was not the mother of 
Eugénie and Pacca ; that they were the daughters of 
Queen Christina of Spain, sister of the Duchess 
de Berry, and grand-niece of Marie Antoinette, 
and that they were born before her marriage with 
Ferdinand VII. Proofs of such assertions were 
lacking, but still the conviction obtained and 
grew that Madame de Montijo was not possessed 
of unassailable virtue. 

After the Paris events of 1830, the Count 
and Countess of Montijo decided to reside in the 
French capital, where their friendship with 
Mérimée afforded them valuable social relations 
among the élite of society, with such families as 
the Labordes and Delesserts. 

They did not display much style until the 
death, in 1834, of Don Eugénio, the head of the 
family, from whom Cipriano inherited the wealth 
and property of the Montijos. 

This accession to wealth had no effect upon the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 23 

course chosen by him in the bringing up of his 
daughters. 

A wise and far-seeing man, he wished them 
brought up with dignity and simplicity, and with 
the knowledge that fate holds cruel awakenings 
in store for us all. His wife was endowed with 
less philosophy and more ambition. Full of 
energy, and intent upon carrying out her plans, 
she made up her mind that her daughters should 
never become familiar with isolation born of 
poverty. She was not the woman to neglect the 
necessary means for raising her own daughters to 
the topmost rung of the ladder — she who on all 
occasions displayed her strong will in obtaining 
for her friends, despite all obstacles, the promotion 
and preferment they yearned for. She was de- 
voured by that fever of restlessness which whips 
the imagination and shatters the nerves. She had 
both brains and courage, attributes without which 
ambitious desires can never be satisfied. " You 
have accustomed me to believe," wrote Mérimée, 
"that all must be accomplished which you wish 
to be accomplished." 

She possessed that optimistic faith which en- 
ables all enterprising characters to reach their goal. 
This was proved when the death of her husband 
afforded a free course to her activity. Then she 
took her place in the forefront of Madrid society, 
commingling pleasure and politics, endeavouring 



24 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to play a part through the divisions and subdivi- 
sions of political parties, and holding countless 
receptions, balls and festivities in her mansion of 
Carabanchel. When the Countess of Montijo had 
provided her own daughters with the most exalted 
stations in life, she continued until her death this life 
of ceaseless energy, applying her zeal to marrying 
and remarrying couples. 1 

For the nonce she did not exercise the princely 
authority which one day she was to wield in her 
palace of Liria or at Carabanchel. She resided 
in her Paris apartment on a modest footing, 
devoting her whole time to her daughters. 
Mérimée was a constant visitor. He was 
attracted by his devotion to the mother and 
his affection for the child Eugénie, whose mind 
he loved to shape and fashion. He gave her 
lessons in French, and educated her by conversa- 
tion. With paternal solicitude, added to the 
curiosity of the thinker, he watched the first 
efforts of a child's soul, analyzing them, turning 
them to the best advantage. 

The two sisters had become indispensable to 
him, and separation from them, though only 
temporary, caused him much pain. They were 
then thirteen and fourteen respectively, having 
reached that interesting age when the woman 
begins to peep through the eyes of the child. He 
1 Augustin Filon, Mérimée, Book III. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 25 

witnessed their departure with sadness when their 
father fell ill in Madrid — it was in 1839, and this 
date remained engraved upon his memory. He 
had accompanied them to the coach which bore 
them away across the Pyrénées, and it was with 
difficulty that he refrained from following them to 
Madrid. He made them promise to write to him 
regularly, and laid a similar embargo upon Miss 
Flower. He wrote to the mother, saying, 
" Having taken such precautions, I truly hope I 
may receive a letter." It was not long forth- 
coming, upon lined paper, in the handwriting of 
Eugénie. She wrote it at Oléron, just before 
crossing the frontier. 

Years rolled by. Paris society had resumed 
possession of Madame de Montijo and her 
daughters, now grown up. 

The Countess was fond of travelling, and visited 
most of the Continent, spending her time between 
Paris and London, where Eugénie had studied. 
In summer she frequented seaside or health 
resorts. In July 1832 the town of Eaux-Bonnes 
was set agog by the arrival of the Montijos. The 
charming personality of Eugénie scored an 
immediate triumph ; all the men in the place 
fell at her feet and worshipped her. The women 
were unanimous in stating that they had never 
seen so sweet or charming a smile as hers. Such 
a verdict from women concerning the advantages 



26 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of another woman is surely the rarest thing in the 
world. 

The name of Mademoiselle de Montijo was on 
every lip. The quaintness of her ways, her 
somewhat bold originality of behaviour, due, no 
doubt, to her cosmopolitan education, as well as 
her charitable nature, which urged her to relieve 
suffering and pain around her — these and other 
causes excited curiosity and awakened in her 
behalf the sympathy of all. This was during the 
summer that preceded the proclamation of the 
Empire. Bernard Bauer, the future preacher of 
the Tuileries, was also at Eaux- Bonnes. His 
recollection of the graceful young Spaniard was 
committed by him to his notes, which came into 
my hands at his death. So keen and full was 
that recollection, that the years which intervened 
between his first meeting with Eugénie and his 
demise did not slow the pulse of his enthusiasm. 
In his conception she remained radiantly beautiful. 

The future Empress pursued her moral and 
physical exercises with the utmost energy. Ex- 
cursions on foot and on horseback through the 
picturesque valleys and o'er the majestic crests of 
the Pyrénées, balls and parties, were all indulged 
in with that gusto born of youth ; and in the 
short intervals between her pursuits of pleasure 
she threw herself whole-hearted into the work of 
charity amid her surroundings. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 27 

Each morning a touching sight could be 
witnessed at the hall door of the hotel where the 
Countess and her daughters resided. There 
foregathered the halt and helpless of the 
countryside, awaiting the advent of the beautiful 
fairy ; daily did their numbers increase, for all who 
were in want had heard of her beneficence and 
sought to partake of it. From the furthermost 
villages came the disinherited in quest of their 
daily share of this booty of benevolence. An old 
blind man, crippled and helpless, was the only 
pariah who could not reach this fountain of relief. 
His distress became known to the providential 
dispenser, and on the day of her departure from 
Eaux-Bonnes she stopped her carriage at the door 
of the wretched hut, entered, and handed to the 
poor old human wreck the wherewithal he sadly 
needed. Moved by gratitude, this simple-minded 
man exclaimed, " May God reward you according 
to your deserts ; may God make you Queen." 
Such legends are always coined around a royal 
cradle, or around a cradle that contains the making 
of history. This prophecy, however, was surely 
fulfilled, and in the very country, in the very 
district, in which it was made, if ever it was made. 

But for the nonce she could hardly expect 
to see it realized in France by the means of a 
French alliance. Her ambition was none the 
less kindled by the words of the blind man. 



28 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

A true Spaniard as she is to this day, the sym- 
pathies of Eugénie towards France were vague, 
ill-defined, and, if anything, they leaned towards 
the legitimist party. She did not hide her feelings 
in the matter, as is proved by an anecdote 
related by Bernard Bauer. One morning she 
witnessed a running race between French and 
Spanish Basques. The French runner had 
reached the goal and won the prize, and the 
Spanish lady, furious at the defeat of her fellow- 
countryman, called him over and spoke harsh 
words to him. Then with the end of her umbrella 
she scattered a little mound of stones that had 
been gathered by the road-makers. "What are 
you doing ? " inquired Bauer. To which she gave 
reply, "I am demolishing France to avenge the 
defeat of Spain." 

The family of Montijo, whose coat-of-arms was 
emblazoned with French, English and Spanish 
quarters, had preserved family ties in France. 1 

1 Her Spanish genealogy was always a source of pride to 
the Empress, and in this feeling she was ever encouraged by 
Napoleon, who, having married the granddaughter of Kirk- 
patrick, and daughter of Cipriano de Portocarrero, was anxious 
to create the impression that she came of as good a stock as a 
princess of the blood. 

Her sister, the Duchess of Alba, was every whit as Spanish in 
this. On the occasion of the Queen of England's visit, her 
mother and herself were bidden take inferior precedence in the 
procession. She exclaimed, " I would sooner go to make lint 
and dress the wounds of Crimean soldiers. I am the Duchess 
of Alba, and that title yields precedence to none." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 29 

There was a certain cousinship between the 
Montijos and the de Lesseps. 1 This was well 
known in Royalist circles to which they were 
admitted, and the friends of the Duc de La Roche- 
foucauld long remembered the handsome Countess 
of Teba, whose presence they often witnessed at 
the country parties given by this great nobleman 
on his estate of la Vallée-aux- Loups. 

Madame de Montijo and her daughters soon 
made their mark in the social set, whose interest 
and curiosity were somewhat whipped by their 
foreign extraction and their somewhat showy ap- 
pearance. The personal charm and aristocratic 
demeanour of Eugénie singled her out from the 
first, and she compelled attention and commanded 
sympathy by the intonation of her voice, her 
manners and her dignified deportment. 

She was still absorbed by dreams of greatness, 
and by the conviction that she was destined to 
play a leading part upon the world's stage. Not- 
withstanding her sojourns in France, she conceived 

1 One Henry de Grivegnée settled in Spain at an early age and 
took up his residence at Malaga, where he married one Dona 
Antonia de Gallegos, by whom he had two daughters. The one, 
François, married William Kirkpatrick, grandfather of the future 
Empress, and the other, Kathleen, became the wife of Matthieu 
de Lesseps, father of Ferdinand. Madame de Lesseps died on 
January 27, 1853, three days before the marriage of Napoleon 
and Eugénie. Her leanings towards the Marquis d'Alcanizes 
gave food to gossipers. Later he became Duke of Sesto and 
the husband of the Duchess de Morny. 



3 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

the idea that she was doomed to reign as a 
woman in Madrid. Her first ambition was to 
bear the title of Duchess of Alba, but her sister 
forestalled her. Too proud to betray her dis- 
appointment, Eugénie forthwith left Madrid. She 
spent some time at Bordeaux, and in the ancient city 
of Aquitaine she prayed in beautiful churches and 
danced at brilliant gatherings. The sorrow of 
the young girl was soon dissipated. A young 
girl's first love is often but her last doll ! Noble- 
men of high birth, such as the Marquis de 
Dampierre and Count Bryas, organized hunting- 
parties in her honour, and at such meetings she 
invariably led the field across country, accomplish- 
ing many daring feats of horsemanship. Songs 
of praise were sung about this Amazon, who after 
a day's hunting had ridden her horse up the 
grand staircase to the first floor of a château. 
One night, at an official dinner given at Cognac, 
she sat beside a very worldly abbé, whose name, 
Boudinet, was somewhat plebeian, a fact that did 
not prevent him from frequenting drawing- 
rooms with much more zest than churches. He 
had not spared words of adulation, because, a 
practised worshipper of woman, he knew that 
they are easy preys to flattery. Wishing to 
prolong his insidious suit, he had resort to the 
somewhat common practice of reading the lady's 
hand. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 31 

" Great goodness," he exclaimed, " I see a 
crown in your hand ! " 

"A Duchess's crown, Abbé?" 
" No, one more brilliant and resplendent." 
" Oh, speak, sir — speak." 
" I see an Imperial crown in your hand." 
The listeners lavished compliments upon the 
future Empress. Did the romantic nature and 
superstitious tendencies of Eugénie lead her to take 
this prophecy in earnest ? We know not. The 
fact remains that she remembered it well when 
later on in Paris she neglected no opportunity of 
meeting the Emperor by the merest chance. The 
merest chances were always well ordained. 



CHAPTER II 

Early ambitions of Eugénie de Montijo — Plans conceived after the 
meeting of Louis Napoleon and the Countess of Teba — The 
Compiègne hunt meetings — Society life — Characteristic anec- 
dotes — The Emperor's hesitancy in proposing marriage — 
Vicissitudes and apprehensions of Eugénie preceding the issue 
of this contest between ambition and love — Official declara- 
tion of the betrothal — Preliminary arrangements — The marriage 
ceremony. 

Eugénie de Montijo had proved the worth of her 
weapons in more than one encounter. Was Paris 
to witness her decisive victory in the field of 
love ? It was time to give stability by means of 
marriage to the vague aspirations of the young 
girl. Nay, it was urgent to do so as weeks and 
months rolled by. She had reached her twenty- 
fifth year, a critical age in woman, at which 
matrimonial conclusions cannot be delayed with- 
out increasing peril. 

While she scanned the horizon, several offers 
had come her way. At one time her friends were 
almost certain that she would marry the son of a 
wealthy banker of Spanish origin. Her mother 
and she were received by his parents in the 
greatest intimacy, and the love of Count Aguado 
32 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 33 

for his fair compatriot was known to all. The 
date of the nuptial ceremony was almost mentioned, 
but suddenly this, like other projects of marriage, 
vanished into thin air. A powerful rival was to 
dispel the fond dreams of Aguado. The day was 
not far off when the discarded lover had to bemoan 
his fate in tearful tones to sympathetic hearers, 
who made merry of him in his absence. 

The Duke of Ossuna, Spanish Ambassador to 
Paris, was also a serious candidate, for he en- 
deavoured to kindle the hymeneal torch, thus 
perpetuating in the daughter the great love he 
had conceived for her mother. Woman-like, 
Eugénie de Montijo played fast and loose with 
this family friend, one day encouraging him, the 
next day rebutting his advances, and leaving in 
doubt all those who took an interest in his fate. 
She hesitated to accept his hand, as if a mysterious 
warning bade her await some strange surprise of 
destiny. 

Proud and self-possessed, she walked through 
the drawing-rooms of Paris like a queen, while 
carefully watching the course of events and the 
promotion of ambitious friends. In the aristo- 
cratic society in which she had taken root, the 
sayings and doings of the Prince-President Louis 
Napoleon were the subject of frequent conversa- 
tion. It is needless to say that he was not spoken 
of as a saint, to whom one prays with devotion. 



34 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

It was considered good form in this monarchical 
circle to riddle his effigy with contemptuous darts, 
and to apply to him such terms as " half-caste " 
créole, " Dutchman " — so many allusions to the 
somewhat complicated question of his birth. 
Mademoiselle de Montijo had often smiled at these 
quips. Without taking part in such slanderous con- 
versations, she evinced no displeasure at hearing 
them. Her friend Mérimée did not tend to 
create in her mind a better impression of 
Napoleon, the new chief of the State in France, 
of whom he was wont to speak as " our poor 
President." Far-seeing though he was, he had 
not diagnosed the true possibilities of this ad- 
venturer, whom the Orleanists in their myopia 
looked upon as a mere political figure-head, behind 
whom would rise in due time the real master, the 
true maker of history. But Eugénie had not 
grown up in vain in the admiring atmosphere of 
the Imperial legion. Though in her speech she 
adhered to legitimist views, her masters, Stendhal 
and Mérimée, had so often tickled her childish 
ear with the narrative of the great deeds accom- 
plished by the first Bonaparte, that she could not 
remain indifferent to the success and undertakings 
of the one who bore his name. In December, 
when the struggle was at its height, she had 
written an enthusiastic letter to the Pretender, to 
whom she offered her all in case he should fail. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 35 

His heart, which had often spoken to him of her, 
now throbbed with gratitude. 

Napoleon's discerning gaze had been attracted 
by her on the occasion of their first meeting in 
the drawing-room of his handsome cousin the 
Princess Mathilde. 

" Who is she ? " he asked of her, pointing to the 
beautiful girl, engaged in animated conversation, 
and surrounded by a host of admirers. 

" A Mademoiselle de Montijo, a foreigner, a 
newcomer from Andalusia." 

" I would like to be introduced to her." 

At dinner the next day he seemed absorbed by 
her, and gossip says that it was not long before 
he sought her in the modest apartment of her 
mother, at No. 12 Place Vendôme; but on that 
occasion he exhibited youthful buoyancy and in- 
discretion, which brought forth from Eugénie the 
caustic warning — 

" After marriage, please, Prince." 

But what is the real value of all these hearsays ? 
The brutal fact is that Napoleon did not look upon 
Mademoiselle de Montijo as his predestined bride, 
but as a possible favourite. This at least was his 
impression when he began his suit, but he soon 
discovered his mistake. The nature of his early 
feelings towards her was frankly set forth in a 
letter to Prince Jérôme Bonaparte, who had also 
indulged in amorous propensities towards the 



3 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

beautiful Spaniard, whom eventually he came to 
loathe. He had confessed his love for her to his 
cousin, who wrote the following cutting reply : 
" It is quite natural and proper to love Mademoiselle 
de Montijo, but of course one cannot marry 
her." 

It is possible that later Louis Napoleon endea- 
voured to justify this hasty opinion by a personal 
experiment, to the inception of which he made 
events subservient. The newly-chosen object of 
his affections was invited to the house-parties at 
Fontainebleau, where he pressed his suit in the 
presence of all. His vivid imagination was easily 
kindled by the attraction of feminine charms. 
He always followed his inclinations with a ro- 
mantic fervour that made him look upon women 
as angels sent from heaven. He became absorbed 
by his love for the foreigner, whose graceful 
bearing on horseback and whose subtle desire to 
please him wrought havoc in his soul. Indis- 
cretions of history teach us that many a favourite 
and many a left-hand queen have had to thank 
the propitious opportunities of the hunting-field 
for their exalted if somewhat irregular positions. 
As graceful and enticing Amazons, they came under 
the notice of their masters in break-neck runs 
across country, appearing and disappearing in the 
thickets in the woods, displaying skill and valour, 
and adding a note of charm to the harmony of the 



/ 







EUGENIE DE MONTIJO 
In Spanish Costume. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 37 

surroundings. Subdued by so much grace, their 
masters became their slaves. Thus did Madame 
de Pompadour secure her victory over the King 
in the forest of Sénart, the meeting-place of the 
royal hunt. There she kindled his curiosity, 
tempting him with the most elegant and daring 
costumes, and playing before him with the famous 
fan upon which Henry IV was depicted at the 
feet of Gabrielle. An enchanting Diana, she rode 
in and out amid the horses and the hounds. At 
other times she drove in a pink phaeton, clad in 
azure ; or in an azure phaeton, wearing a graceful 
gown of pink. Her previsions were fully realized 
and her object achieved. The King saw her, 
noticed her, and soon she became the chosen one. 

The great hunting scenes of Compiègne and 
Fontainebleau afforded Eugénie de Montijo ample 
scope for securing a more complete and legitimate 
victory than that won by Pompadour. 

Gossip was soon rife, and indiscreet prophecies 
were vouchsafed as to the duration of Eugenie's 
resistance, and the price that she would obtain 
for a double victory. The terrible old analyst, 
Viel Castel, committed the following malevolent 
reflection to his memoirs — 

"Since her visit to Fontainebleau, Mademoiselle 
de Montijo, a fair young Spaniard of high birth, 
has become the object of the Prince's closest 
attention. What will my brother Louis say — 



3 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

he who was her mother's lover, and is still her 
friend ? " 

Eugénie was well to the fore at all social 
functions, where she was observed and keenly 
criticized. The essential features of her nature 
consisted of an intellectual culture which, if 
somewhat limited, could pass muster so long as 
it was not too deeply sifted, and of feelings 
more positive than sentimental, though she dis- 
played a certain tendency towards chivalrous 
and religious shibboleths. Those who met her 
in society refused to recognize in her mental 
capabilities above the average, nor did they admit 
that she was possessed of much knowledge or 
endowed with much intelligence. Notwithstand- 
ing, it could not be denied that she exhibited 
qualities of tact and prudence quite remarkable, 
and applied them to maturing her hopes and 
projects, leaving nothing to chance, and curbing 
herself in the use of caustic and ill-measured 
terms which so often jeopardize the worthiest 
causes. She would stay the word upon her 
lips in due time to avoid a mistake. 

During her early acquaintance with the Prince- 
President, when his demonstrations of affection 
were in the preliminary stage, she was present one 
day at a party given in the reception-rooms of 
an embassy. Tongues wagged concerning Na- 
poleon's courtship towards her and the imminent 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 39 

advent of the Empire. One of the guests seated 
beside her tried to whisper a few words to her 
upon the subject which was to provide conversa- 
tion to all upon the morrow. She shrugged her 
pretty shoulders, and said, " All this is nonsense, 
idle talk, a stupid fancy." But things pursued their 
even course. The last trees of liberty had been 
cut down. The people, thirsting for authority, had 
taken unto themselves a master. Louis Napoleon 
was Emperor of the French and still the slave of 
Eugénie de Montijo. Around him, among his 
Court and following, in the gossip of drawing- 
rooms and boudoirs, a burning question still held 
sway : " Would Montijo yield to his amorous 
caprice, or, better advised concerning her future, 
would she offer a virtuous and politic defence 
of herself?" Seldom was such an opportunity 
afforded to the espionage and jealousies of a whole 
Court. 

When stung by the dart of a sentimental adven- 
ture, Napoleon soon lost his head, and fell a 
victim to his intense passion. He had not, how- 
ever, yet contemplated marriage as a means to 
achieve the end he hoped for. Between this end 
and the reward it was to receive, between an 
ephemeral crown of orange blossom and the crown 
of an empress, given in exchange for the achieve- 
ment of his purpose, the proportions appeared to 
him quite unequal. At first he had only aspired 



4o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to the fulfilment of his own desire, without fixing 
the limits of his gratitude. But with that intuitive 
knowledge of the heart of man with which the 
youngest, purest and simplest maiden is endowed, 
with a skill and courage the value of which was 
known to her, thanks to her intelligence, Euo-énie 
smiled and broke away, to come again with 
encouraging graces and lay down her hard-and- 
fast conditions. Every detail of this pitched 
battle between love and ambition was closely 
analyzed by the onlookers. The more far-seeing 
among them began to court Montijo. They sought 
her influence, entreating of her to plead with the 
Emperor in their behalf, as though they had no 
doubt concerning her power over him. She was 
the rising sun of the day, and events worked in 
her favour. 

At Court it was the unanimous wish that the 
Emperor should marry, a wish expressed to him 
in diverse ways as being the wish of the whole 
country. Troplong, President of the Senate, was 
the first to give public expression to the wish of 
the nation (in such cases the wish of the nation is 
synonymous with that of the interested servants 
of the existing régime). France yearned for the 
day when Napoleon would take unto himself a 
companion who would help to make his reign 
more magnificent, and ensure the dynastic 
stability that all hoped for. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 41 

Such advice was given to him the more con- 
fidently as it was an open secret that His Majesty 
was thinking very seriously about marriage. He 
was less reserved upon the chapter of sentiment 
than upon that of politics, and more than once he 
had unfolded his intentions to those around him 
who could serve them. 

He had carefully avoided all mention of them 
to his ambitious cousin Jérôme, who lived in 
constant dread of seeing his chances of inherit- 
ance dashed to the ground by the marriage of 
the Emperor. But he confided his matrimonial 
aspirations to Morny, Persigny, and to his relative 
and high dignitary, Count Tascher de la Pagerie, 
who had been accredited to various foreign Courts, 
and who was best acquainted with the difficulties 
that beset Napoleon's views abroad. These 
difficulties were almost insuperable in the case of 
the German Princesses, such as Queen Elizabeth 
of Prussia, the Archduchess Sophia of Austria, or 
Queen Mary of Saxony. 

Though Napoleon had waited long with an 
amount of patience which certain liaisons made 
quite endurable, he still caressed fond hymeneal 
hopes. Mathilde, his cousin and the friend of his 
childhood, had not had the firstfruits of his love. 
As early as June 1834 his affection had been 
directed towards the Duchess of Padua. " You 
will cause me great pleasure," he wrote on the 5th 



42 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of that month, to his father, Count de Saint-Leu, 
ex-King of Holland, " if you will give me your 
advice upon this projected marriage, although I am 
in no hurry to contract matrimony." The following 
year efforts were again made to provide the Prince 
with a consort. He was then twenty-seven, and 
resided at Arenenberg. It was rumoured, with 
little foundation, however, that he was to marry 
Queen Maria of Portugal, and then came the 
project of his alliance with Mathilde — a project 
that was not realized owing to fortuitous circum- 
stances. After his escape to the British shore he 
fell in love with a charming young English girl, 
Miss Emmy Rowles, who lived with her brother- 
in-law at Camden House, Chislehurst, the very 
house in which Napoleon was doomed to die 
twenty-six years afterwards. His marriage with 
her was broken off at the last moment because 
Miss Rowles became aware of his liaison with 
Miss Howard. 

From the day on which he was elected to the 
Presidency by the enthusiastic votes of a frenzied 
people, the scope of his ambitions became much 
wider. Pending the possibility of their realization, 
he put into practice the advice given after the 
taking of Amiens by the first Napoleon to the 
Archbishop of Malines, when he sent him as 
Ambassador to London — 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 43 

" Above all, do not fail to give good dinners, and 
take great care of the women." 

Imbued with the principles of this easy and 
pleasant policy, he put them into practice. At the 
cost of the national Treasury, he gave countless 
dinners and receptions, over which his cousin 
Mathilde presided with perfect grace and ease. 
To such gatherings were bidden the elite of the 
great State bodies — the Institute, the Army, the 
world of Finance and Fine Arts. The beauty of 
the scene was enhanced by the presence of the most 
graceful women in Europe. Without the walls of 
the Tuileries ironical prophets were wont to say 
concerning these festivals and the one who ordained 
them, " He is making the Republic dance, awaiting 
the day when he will compel it to hop." 

At this period the phlegmatic Napoleon en- 
joyed life. The Palace of the Elysée, which he 
occupied as the ante-room to the Tuileries, afforded 
him complete freedom, for there he lived un- 
trammelled by etiquette or convention. But the 
pursuit of pleasure and levity did not dim his 
views upon an alliance worthy of his future. He 
had reached the summit of power, and this urged 
him to contract a great alliance that would flatter 
his amour propre and spur his ends. 1 As he 

1 The Duke of Rianzas, who was on intimate terms with the 
future host of the Tuileries, undertook to bring about his 



44 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

was only yet a Prince-President, he trained his 
diplomatic guns upon Spain. 

After the Coup d'État, energetic efforts had been 
made in the chancellories of Madrid, London and 
other capitals, with a view to obtaining the hand 
of a princess of the blood. Napoleon's overtures 
were received with coldness, even when as a 
last resource his attentions were turned to the 
daughter of a prince without crown or subjects, 
Prince Wasa, the disinherited heir to the throne 
of Sweden, a monarch in exile wandering on 
the highways and through the hostelries of 
Europe. Nobody believed that power could 
endure which had been obtained by surprise, 
violence and revolution. His mysterious matri- 
monial campaigns were met with polite refusals. 
The reigning families seemed to have unani- 
mously decided to place a sort of matrimonial 
interdict upon the new Emperor. 

Keenly nettled by this contempt, which was wrapt 
up in Court formulae, and by the thinly-veiled 
hostility displayed towards him, deceived in his 
reckonings, and, moreover, much in love, Napoleon 



marriage with the Infanta Maria Christina, sixth child and 
fourth daughter of Don François de Paul, and sister-in-law of 
Queen Isabel II. She was just seventeen, plain, and moder- 
ately well off. There was no official effort made to seek her 
hand, and Spain was not called upon to accept an offer or to 
reject it. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 45 

decided to follow the dictates of his heart. The 
mere mention of a certain name caused many com- 
ments. Could a love-match be effected in the 
case of one who had reached sovereign power ? 
Could such a thing occur, save in fairy tales? 

The course of events continued untrammelled. 
Hearsays, anecdotes and small tattle were 
repeated from mouth to mouth. Every one 
related the well-known saying of Eugénie, " that 
the only way to her bedroom was through a 
well-lit church," and also the words spoken at 
a card-table at Compiègne and the answer of 
Mademoiselle de Montijo, her victorious smile 
when she picked up the trump card in the 
presence of the Prince, an act interpreted as 
the triumph of will over the capriciousness 
of fate ; and the haughty answer given on the 
morrow to the insulting and impudent observa- 
tions of Madame Fortoul, by which she ex- 
pressed her indignation at "a questionable 
stranger" being granted precedence over her, 
the wife of the Home Secretary. 

Then, again, the graceful incident that occurred 
at the hunt meeting in the forest, when the 
Emperor plaited a crown of leaves and placed 
it on her brow, saying, " Wear this until the 
other one is ready." They also related that 
one evening, while admiring the Crown jewels, 
whose rays reflected many centuries of the 



4 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

monarchy's greatness, he had taken up the 
diadem and placed it upon the head of the girl 
he loved. This romantic scene, which occurred 
in the Tuileries on the 31st December, 1832, was 
not to be forgotten in history. 

Then the sacramental word fell from the lips 
of Napoleon III. He had indeed spoken it to 
her, Eugénie de Montijo, Countess of Teba. 
On hearing it, she seemed dazed and overjoyed. 
The thought of the splendours laid at her feet, 
but not originally meant for her, suddenly over- 
came her. The interests of France and of the 
Emperor himself were far more important than 
her own. She asked him to reflect upon this, 
to consult and study higher political reasons 
of State, to weigh all pros and cons, to elicit 
the judgment of his people and that of the world. 
She added that if he thought fit to maintain his 
generous offer, she conjured of him to calm the 
scruples of her mother, so full of zeal and 
devotion to the glory of the Emperor. Sweetly, 
softly, ingeniously, she begged of him to write 
himself to the Countess of Montijo, asking her 
not to consider as an insuperable hindrance the 
distance existing between the throne and the 
object of his love. In a word, he was to obtain 
her consent to their marriage. 

His eyes were blindfolded by his great passion ; 
he allowed her to hold his hand while he wrote 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 47 

the coveted letter, 1 and before long the mother 
of Eugénie was the proud possessor of a docu- 
ment from the contents of which there could be 
no appeal. On the 1st January, 1853, an equerry 
brought Napoleon's official request to Madame de 
Montijo. All was joy in the Spanish household, 
but joy commingled with that acute impression 
produced by excessive happiness, that instinctive 
fear of the sudden awakening from too joyful a 
dream. Moved by fear and joy, the mother 
wrote the feelings of her heart to the Marquis de 
Rochelambert, late French Minister in Berlin — 

" I don't know if I should laugh or cry. Many 
mothers who to-day envy me could not explain 
the cause of my tears. Eugénie is about to 
become Queen of France, but I cannot help 
thinking that queens know but little joy. Do 
what I may, I am obsessed by the recollection 
of Marie Antoinette, and I ask myself in dread if 
my poor child will not some day meet with 
a similar fate." 

The Royal martyr alluded to by Madame de 
Montijo, the happy and beloved Princess whose 
misfortunes began on the day that the Royal 
circle touched her forehead, was the historical 
ideal religiously worshipped by Eugénie. But 

1 The Montijo Palace possesses a collection of archives in 
which this letter of Napoleon is catalogued among the 
" curiosities " and " rare documents." 



4 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

her mind was too full of joy just then to harbour 
any thoughts of sadness ; her eyes, illumined by the 
light of gaiety and fond hope, could not foresee 
the weird fatality that hung about the Palace of 
the Tuileries, and was so nefarious to most of 
the princesses and queens who entered its portal. 
She only thought of the morrow, and was busily 
engaged in apprising all her friends of her good 
fortune. Shortly before the public announcement 
of her betrothal, she had registered a solemn vow 
with several young girls in her entourage to the 
effect that whichever of them would first secure a 
high social position must look after all the others 
during the rest of their lives. It was now her 
duty to tell them that she was about to become 
an Empress. 

The de Laborde family heard the happy news 
before it became public property. It was borne 
to the little house at Passy by Eugénie herself. 
That home contained the object of her affection, 
Madame de Nadaillac, daughter of Countess 
de Laborde. 1 The happy tidings were forthwith 
carried to the Opéra, to Madame Aguado's box, 

1 The intimate circle of the de Labordes consisted of 
Princess Mathilde, Viscount de Noailles, the Duchess of 
Galliera, the Count and Countess Phillippe de Segur, 
the wife of Marshal de Castellane, the Duke and Duchess de 
Broglie, Mérimée, Thiers, Xavier, Doudan, the Duke de 
Richelieu, General de Girardin, Emile de Girardin, Marshal 
Suchet's wife, and hosts of diplomatists. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 49 

by Charles Bocher, one of the intimate friends of 
the household. His information was received 
with indignant protest. Could it be possible that 
the Emperor would commit such a folly ? Who- 
ever spread such a rumour must indeed be an 
enemy of the Government, an Orleanist, not to 
say a vile calumniator. 

Everything was settled, and of this there were 
abundant signs, yet there were some who still 
believed that the whole thing was a mere flirtation 
with no definite consequences. Such folk could 
not possibly make up their minds to the inevitable. 
Here is a strange anecdote related to me by an 
eye-witness of the occurrence. It throws a curious 
light upon the opinion that prevailed at the time. 

The intentions of the Emperor were about to 
be publicly proclaimed. By his order, apartments 
were being prepared at the Elysée for the recep- 
tion of the Montijo family, and tongues wagged 
accordingly. Still conjectures ran riot. Morny, 
who knew the formal intentions of his brother 
and master, and who knew from past experience 
that it was as difficult to change his mind as to 
make him adopt a course of action, gave a great 
dinner in honour of the future Sovereign, thus 
endeavouring to forestall events. 

The wives of all those who were in high station 
and in favour were bidden to the feast. Among 
them was Madame Walewska, whose husband, 



5 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Ambassador in London, had been instructed to feel 
the pulse of foreign Courts upon the subject of 
a princely alliance. She was a woman of high 
education and intellect, and was one of the first 
to be apprised of the coming surprise. This 
knowledge had not been imparted to the other 
guests, who, on hearing that the arrival of 
Madame de Montijo and her daughters was 
awaited before dinner could be served, assumed 
airs of injured dignity. At last they came, and 
Morny rushed to meet them with eagerness so 
palpable that the dowagers blushed for him 
behind their fans. Madame de Fortoul and 
Madame Ducos, the wife of the Minister of 
Marine, suffered a painful shock indeed. The 
latter, who afterwards humbly and repeatedly 
sought the honour of becoming the nurse of the 
Prince Imperial, was the more shocked of the 
two. Eugénie made her entrée with graceful, 
natural ease. She wore a charming and simple 
toilette. As Madame Walewska, whose training 
in diplomacy had borne full fruit, came to greet 
the young Countess, saying, " I congratulate you, 
madame, upon the brilliant future in store for 
you," the other ladies present stared at the young 
stranger as if suffering from a personal injury. A 
pretty comedy for those who knew the secret, that 
on the following day was to be the common 
talk of all. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 51 

Opinions were divided at Court upon the 
intentions of the Chief of the State, pending the 
knowledge that his decision was irrevocable. The 
more ardent and adventurous partisans were urged 
by their own youth and loving dispositions to bow 
to the triumph of Mademoiselle de Montijo's charms. 
They did not admit that much advantage would 
have accrued to the Emperor of France from 
an alliance with a high-born Princess, perhaps 
cantankerous and very ugly, who might have 
brought to him as a dowry fragile alliances, 
coupled with invincible prejudices. They con- 
sidered he was well advised to take unto himself 
the one whom his heart had spontaneously chosen. 
Politicians and logicians took a very different view 
of the possible results of such a dangerous step. 
Drouyn de Lhuys, who presided at the Foreign 
Office, and other members of the Council offered 
some objections when informed by Napoleon of 
his intentions. They were about to give him 
their reasons for so doing, and to discourse at 
length with ample proofs upon the drawbacks 
and perils attending such a mésalliance, but the 
Emperor soon guillotined their admonitions. 
"Gentlemen," he declared in calm tones of 
triumph, which admitted of no reply, "you need 
make no observations, nor need you discuss the 
matter. This marriage I have decided upon, and 
it shall take place." After that they came to the 



52 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

conclusion that comment was useless, and would 
possibly deprive them of an invitation to the 
ceremony. The political opponents of Napoleon, 
legitimists and Orleanists, were not silenced by 
the same motives of submission. On the contrary, 
they seized the opportunity red-hot of indulging 
themselves in quips and railleries that relieved 
their sufferings. From drawing-room to drawing- 
room they hawked the ironical saying of Thiers, 
which gave one to understand that the sojourn 
of the Imperial couple at the Tuileries would be 
short-lived. " The Emperor has always struck 
me as a man of wit and ability," he said. " To-day 
I recognize his foresight, because he has won over 
the good-will of the Grandees of Spain." 

The family of Louis Napoleon also affected 
to be scandalized. Among its members acute 
irritation really prevailed. At the Palais Royal, 
where the angry and disillusioned ambitions of 
Prince Jérôme and his son were harboured, the 
minds of their followers were in a state of ebulli- 
tion. They could not find terms strong enough 
in which to qualify this eccentric marriage, the 
contract of which they would have to sign, nor 
expressions vivid enough to express the consterna- 
tion of the highnesses upon whom untold wealth 
and preferments had been showered by the object 
of their blame and sarcasm. Napoleon III pro- 
ceeded undismayed towards the goal he had in 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 53 

view. On the 22nd January, 1853, he called 
together the great bodies of the State, and to 
them he declared that, yielding to the desire so 
often expressed by the country, a desire 
he shared himself, he had decided to choose a 
virtuous and graceful companion, and that his 
choice had fallen upon Mademoiselle Eugénie de 
Montijo, a Spaniard by birth, a Frenchwoman by 
sympathy, by education, and by the memory of the 
blood which her father had lost in the cause of 
France and of the Empire. 

Three or four weeks previously, two days before 
Christmas, the happy Jîancée, joyous and exuberant, 
was trotting along the boulevards, visiting the 
little shops and stalls of the New Year fair. 
Those who saw her that day little thought that 
she would soon ascend the throne of the Tuileries 
and wear a purple mantle. 

Time flew in the preparations for the nuptial 
ceremony. Mérimée, with his usual zest, was 
busy drawing up the contract, devoting all his 
care to the correct enumeration of the bride's titles 
of nobility, heraldic and genealogical, that filled a 
whole page of foolscap. The sempstresses were 
hard at work in their shops. Palmyre, the great 
dressmaker of the day, was in a state of high fever. 
But what toilettes she turned out, what creative 
genius she bestowed upon the conception and 
realization of her masterpieces ! Among feminine 



54 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

circles curiosity reached a point of frenzy. With 
unheard-of perseverance, women sought to force 
the doors of Palmyre's salons, just for a glimpse at 
the treasures they contained. The merest detail 
of the confection of dresses, mantles, flashed from 
end to end of Paris society, whose attention hung 
upon the elaborate details, the treasures of art and 
science, the gowns, the coming of which were to 
stagger the world and make the laws of fashion. 
The slightest indiscretions upon these subjects 
were caught on the wing and generously retailed. 
Happy were the women who knew an hour before 
the others that a dress of moire antique, with pink 
fringe, lace and feather trimmings, had seen the 
light of day ; that another of green taffetas, with 
flounces of curled feathers, and a third of mauve 
moire covered with finest lace, were being evolved 
from the brain of the mighty one ! Their joy 
and admiration were rekindled by their possession 
of the anticipated description of the ball gowns. 
Among these were a dress of white brocade 
covered with flowers wrought in gold and silver, 
then, in more serious vein, a gown of black 
velvet flounced with gold guipure, a red velvet 
one embroidered with beads, and a diaphanous 
blue tulle built upon satin, and covered with roses 
and feathers. But soon the public was to be 
afforded an opportunity of gloating over these 
marvels. Palmyre condescended to make it 




gSKS^ï 



THE EMPRESS IN HER BRIDAL ROBES. 
After Mme. Lefèvre-Deumier. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 55 

known that the toilettes of the future Empress 
would be exposed under glass to the admiring 
gaze of the elect. 

The intimate friends had gained the knowledge 
that the dress to be worn at the religious ceremony 
was to be the work of Madame Vignon, and that 
its composition w r ould be as follows — White 
velvet, with a Court train covered with English 
lace, and a bodice studded with diamonds. They 
also knew that Félix had been chosen from 
among the past-masters of Parisian coiffeurs to 
erect the crown of diamonds and sapphires upon 
the undulating tresses, and to adjust in the centre 
of a bouquet of orange blossom the veil, a marvel 
of lightness, a mere zephyr. 

There was still great uncertainty concerning 
the robes that were to be worn at the lay cere- 
mony. This point was only settled at the last 
moment, notwithstanding the curiosity of the 
idlers to glean this important item of information. 
The bride had hesitated between two costumes 
which the diligent Palmyre submitted to her ap- 
proval, the one of pink satin, trimmed with English 
lace, the other of white satin, with a shawl of point 
d'Alençon, studded with jewels and brilliants. The 
latter dress was chosen as being more maidenly 
and juvenile in appearance. The civil marriage 
was to take place on the 29th January, before 
9 p.m., and from all parts huge crowds gathered 



56 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

early round the Elysée. There they remained, 
bearding the bitter cold, in hopes of catching one 
glimpse of the cortège. At last, with much ado, 
the escort of the mounted Carabineers headed the 
procession. In the state coach rode the bride 
and her mother, accompanied by the Marquis de 
Valdegamas, Spanish Ambassador, and the Duke 
of Cambaceres. The onlookers beheld in a rapid 
transit the transfiguration of youth and human 
joy, and they applauded, shouting with the in- 
genuous enthusiasm peculiar to crowds, as if the 
rays of this joy and the benefits of this good 
fortune were shared by one and all of the 
applauders. 

The cortège stopped at the Flora Pavilion. 
There, at the top of the marble steps, were 
grouped the Lord Chamberlain and the officers 
on duty, who had to accompany Mademoiselle 
de Montijo and lead her to the family drawing- 
room, where the Emperor awaited her. On the 
threshold of the first reception-room stood Prince 
Napoleon, furious at having to be present, and 
his consort, Princess Mathilde. 

Here the full cortège was formed. The orderly 
officers, the Chamberlain, two equerries, the Master 
of the Horse, and two Masters of Ceremonies 
preceded their Imperial Highnesses. Then came 
the Countess of Teba and her mother. The Lord 
Chamberlain was on their ri^ht, the Grand Master 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 57 

of Ceremonies on their left, and they were followed 
by the ladies in waiting. This nuptial procession 
proceeded with great solemnity, but with rapid gait 
one of the Masters of Ceremonies hurried forth 
to announce to the Emperor the coming of his 
bride. 

Etiquette nailed him to his throne, where he 
remained seated with Prince Jérôme by his side, 
and surrounded by the field-marshals, his admirals, 
the Diplomatic Corps, and the Ministers. All 
present noticed the pallor of his cheeks. De- 
scending slowly the steps of his throne, he came 
towards her whose steps guided her to him. Her 
arms were bared, her bodice was cut low, and 
partially covered by a bertha of lace. Her face 
betrayed neither surprise nor emotion. Napoleon 
held out his hand to her as she ascended the 
steps of the throne, and took her seat on his left 
between him and Princess Mathilde. Behind her 
stood the Countess de Montijo. 

The Master of Ceremonies exclaimed in a loud 
voice, " The Emperor." All present rose to their 
feet, while the august couple remained seated. 
When the Minister had pronounced the formula, 
" In the name of the Emperor," they both rose. 

" Sire," said the Secretary of State, who spoke 
with the registry of the Imperial Family : before 

1 Its pages were blank since the inscription of the birth of 
the King of Rome on the 20th March, 181 1. 



$S THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

him, " does your Majesty declare his august wish 
to take unto himself in matrimony Her Excellency 
Mademoiselle Eugénie de Montijo, Countess of 
Teba, here present?" Napoleon's voice, as he 
repeated and confirmed these words, was less firm 
than when, in the presence of the great State 
bodies, he delivered a political speech or a message 
to the nation. 

Turning towards the descendant of the Guz- 
mans, 1 Mademoiselle Eugénie de Montijo, 
Countess of Teba, the Minister said — 

" Does your Excellency declare her wish to take 
unto herself in matrimony His Majesty Napoleon 
the Third, here present ? " The answer was 
soon forthcoming: "Yes." It was pronounced 
clearly, with a sort of happy eagerness. Then 
fell in solemn and weighty tones the consecrating 
words of the civil court. "In the name of the 
Emperor, of the Constitution and of the Law, I 
hereby declare that His Majesty Napoleon the 
Third, Emperor of the French by the grace of 
God and the will of the people, and Her 
Excellency Eugénie de Montijo are joined in 
matrimony." 

1 Here is the enumeration of the titles given to her in the 
Royal Almanack of Spain : " Doha Maria Eugenia de Guzman 
Portocarrero y Palafox, Countess of Teba, Marchioness of 
Ardales, of Osera, of Moya, Countess of Ablitas, of Banos 
(with grandeeship of the first class), Countess of Santa Cruz de 
la Sierra, Viscountess of Calzada." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 59 

The table and the register were placed before 
them. They signed the register, remaining seated. 
Upon it the Countess Montijo placed her maternal 
signature, then the relations of Napoleon, who 
had quite recently qualified as Princes and 
Princesses of the blood, affixed their many 
signatures to the document. The Ambassador 
of Spain, the high dignitaries, and lastly, Achille 
Fould, Secretary of State and Imperial notary, 
did likewise. The official ceremony was over. 
The company repaired to the reception-rooms, and 
to the theatre to listen to sweet music. After the 
concert, Eugénie de Montijo and her mother 
drove back to the Palace of the Elysée in the 
majestic coach that had borne them to the Pavilion 
of Flora. On the following day at noon a coach 
resplendent with gold, a coach that had been used 
for the coronation of Napoleon I and Josephine 
at Notre Dame, conveyed Napoleon III and 
Eugénie to the cathedral, where the religious 
service was to take place with unprecedented 
pomp. Drawn by eight horses, led by eight 
grooms, and preceded by three other coaches, each 
drawn by six horses, and containing their Imperial 
Highesses the Countess of Montijo and the 
great Court officers, it was escorted on the right 
and the left by the Master of the Horse, the 
General commanding the National Guard, the 
Master of the Household, and the Grand Master 



6o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of the Hounds. The cannon roared ; the bells 
pealed. Numberless regiments lined the route 
of the cortège, which was preceded and followed 
by eight squadrons at a gallop. At last the 
goal, the huge basilica, was reached. The 
Sovereigns alighted, the Empress in her white silk 
dress, covered with lace, and tightened at the 
waist by a belt studded with rare and precious 
stones. Her train was of velvet and point 
d'Alençon. The Emperor wore the uniform 
of a lieutenant-general, white breeches, patent 
top-boots, the collar of the Golden Fleece that 
had belonged to Charles V and the collar of the 
Legion of Honour, a relic of Napoleon I. 

Crossing the threshold of the church, they 
directed their steps towards the throne which 
Lassus and Viollet-Leduc had erected in the 
centre of the transept, under a dais of ermine velvet 
supporting a gigantic eagle with wings displayed. 
At the altar stood Monseigneur Sibour, Archbishop 
of Paris, surrounded by cardinals and prelates 
clad in the dazzling brilliancy of their sacerdotal 
garb. Divine music quickened the senses. But 
what need is there to describe once more these 
religious magnificences and this display of banners, 
of every splendour, that are the customary 
staging of monarchical pageantry ? 

But a few minutes before, Eugénie de Montijo 
had entered the cathedral with somewhat halting 




THE IMPERIAL WEDDING. 

Celebrated at Notre Dame, January 30th 1853. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 61 

gait, her head bowed low, her body slightly- 
inclined forward as if she were borne down by 
the weight of her extraordinary good fortune. 
But what a metamorphosis was witnessed on her 
return ! What a sudden change in her attitude 
and in her whole person ! Her hand resting on the 
arm of the man who for twenty years was to be 
the sole arbiter of Europe, she seemed to pro- 
ceed in the glory of apotheosis, smiling and bowing 
as befits a queen. 

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Napoleon 
and his bride returned officially to the Tuileries, 
borne upon the plaudits of the crowd, ever 
quick to acclaim that which strikes its imagina- 
tion and dazzles its eyes. Soon they appeared 
again, driving in two superb Daumonts drawn 
by four horses and ridden by postilions in the 
Imperial livery. They proceeded at a fast 
trot from Paris to Saint-Cloud. The end of the 
journey was near at hand, for they were about to 
reach the little Château of Villeneuve-l'Etang, 1 
that had been prepared for them. 

Their suite consisted of three or four persons 
only, among whom was Adrienne de Montebello, 

1 It was a charming property, separated from Saint-Cloud by 
a wall. The Prince-President, having bought it in the summer 
of 1852, decided to throw down the wall. But as Bacciochi 
explained to him that later on some difficulties might arise if 
he did so, he replied, "There is no later on so far as I am 
concerned. I shall live and die here." 



62 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

just appointed lady in waiting. In their frenzied 
happiness, they had even forgotten the Countess 
of Montijo. 1 Then on the morrow they basked 
alone in the winter sun, in a phaeton driven by 
Napoleon himself. Crossing the frost-crested 
woods of Saint-Cloud and Ville-d'Avray, they 
proceeded to the Trianon on a pious pilgrimage, 
there to dwell upon and thread together the sweet 
legend of Marie Antoinette, who had spent her 
heyday there. For a whole week they hid from 
the gaze of indiscretion those impressions common 
to all human hearts, their first joy, and those 
mutual confidences that should always be spoken 
in the narrowest of circles. 

1 We read the following in the memoir of the Marquise de 
la Ferronays : " On the night of the wedding, the poor 
Countess de Montijo was confronted with a disappointment such 
as often befalls the mothers of débutantes. On her daughter's 
departure for Saint-Cloud the Elyse'e was left without domes- 
tics, and she was extremely grateful to accept dinner from a 
friend of hers, Madame Gould, a worthy soul, somewhat Jewish 
and somewhat Portuguese." 



CHAPTER III 

First impressions created in the public mind by the marriage of 
Napoleon — Open criticisms and secret opposition — First enact- 
ments under the new reign — Questions of etiquette — Detailed 
organization of the ceremonials at Court — Distribution of titles 
and dignities — Household of the Emperor and Empress — 
Gentlemen and ladies in waiting — Apparent omission of the 
Countess of Montijo in the conferring of high favours — The 
rank afforded to their Imperial Highnesses — As a contrast, the 
truth about the real feelings among the parties — Jealousies, 
rivalries in the family — Relations with the Empress of Prince 
Jérôme, Princess Mathilde and Princess Clotilde — General 
description of the Court — Official splendour of the Tuileries. 

This extraordinary marriage, born of chance, 
intrigue and love, was at last an accomplished 
fact. By a solemn declaration Napoleon had 
justified his choice in the eyes of the nation, ever 
quick to link circumstances with the reasons he 
adduced in vindication of his acts. 

Before taking Eugénie as his bride, and with a 
tenacity as persistent as it was ill-requited, he had 
brought into play the strongest springs and levers 
of secret diplomacy in order to secure his alliance 
with one or other of the old dynasties of Europe. 

He had been confronted with insurmountable 

difficulties. The foundations of the throne which 

he offered to share seemed to lack solidity. It 

was not deemed possible that his power, wrenched 

63 



6 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

by strength and violence through premeditated 
revolution, could endure for any length of time. 
With much zest did the Courts of Europe 
repeat the answer made by Lady Blessington to 
Napoleon when he asked her if she meant to make 
a long stay in Paris : " Yes, Majesty ; what about 
you ? " Failing an Infanta or an Archduchess, he 
had led to the Tuileries the daughter of a Grandee 
of Spain. 

Though of necessity he had made a virtue, he 
proclaimed loudly that he had refused offers which 
in reality were never forthcoming. His marriage, 
due to the force of circumstances, produced the 
following principle of government: "When, in 
the presence of old Europe, one is borne by the 
strength of a new principle to the giddy heights 
of ancient dynasties, it is not by adding age to 
one's coat-of-arms, or endeavouring to force a way 
or to elbow oneself into the families of Kings that 
a monarch of yesterday's creation can make 
himself acceptable." 

Where love had triumphed, diplomacy had 
failed, and with much ingenuity he circumvented 
the difficulty by opportune expressions of opinion, 
and statements that lent a colour of truth to his 
asseverations. The Empress also testified in 
feeling terms to those noble sentiments which 
spring to the lips of Princes and Princesses when 
they ascend a throne — 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 65 

" I ardently wish that my marriage may not 
prove an extra burden to the country which is 
henceforth mine, and my one ambition is to share 
with the Emperor the love and esteem of the 
French nation." 

Sincere words, no doubt as sincere as the 
feelings that urged them when they were spoken. 
Very empty in practice, because overwhelming 
proofs are at hand that the food her youth sought 
most was that of luxury and display, not love or 
esteem. 

The national approval did not manifest itself 
spontaneously or very warmly. Among the public 
there was more surprise than sympathy. The 
love that filled the heart of Napoleon the Third 
had not made contact, like a magnetic fluid, with 
the hearts of the French citizens, who had been 
invited to come and drink to the full of this cup of 
joy. Before the official ceremonies took place, 
unpleasant allusions were whispered and circulated, 
secretly at first, then quite openly. The name of 
Mademoiselle de Montijo and her personality 
were the subject of ill-natured talk. The echoes 
multiplied the whisperings to such an extent that 
the police deemed fit to act. In the cafés of the 
boulevards, in the Latin quarter, a number of 
arrests were effected, and all who spoke disrespect- 
fully of the Empress fiancee were summarily 
dealt with. In a wine-shop on the Boulevard 




66 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Baumarchais, two individuals were roughly 
handled for indulging in unseemly remarks. A 
well-known dramatic author, having asserted that 
at a dance the Countess of Teba had lent a willing 
ear to his amorous supplications, was sent to 
reflect between four walls upon the very bad 
taste of his reminiscences. Journalists, financiers 
and artisans shared the same fate for not approv- 
ing or at least remaining silent. All this caused a 
certain amount of dissatisfaction. Even the Stock 
Exchange had two or three fits of sulkiness, the 
effects of which were felt as soon as Napoleon's 
matrimonial intentions were made public. National 
funds fell several points ; but these summer clouds 
were soon dispelled, and useless opposition vanished 
before long. The accomplished fact was accepted 
as if it had been desired, and the popular interest 
was awakened as it might have been by the 
unfolding of a romantic story or the fifth act of 
a popular play. Poets in their lyrics proclaimed 
the great goodness of Providence showering gifts 
and the most enviable of crowns upon such a 
charming head. Flatterers, seeking to earn their 
monthly wage, candidates for the fattest sinecures, 
aspirants to the gold lace of Court appointments, 
rushed forth, eager to know the price they would 
receive for their services, and what services might 
be expected of them. They were soon enlightened 
on both points. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 67 

From the day Eugénie and her mother took 
up their abode in the Elysée Palace, the care of 
forming a Court became far more important than 
all questions of State and Government. The 
constitution of this Court was to be based upon 
that of Napoleon the First, wherein display, 
magnificence and lavish splendour had pre- 
vailed. Such a Court commended itself to 
Napoleon the Third, with whom display was 
a real passion. Equipoised brains would have 
preferred that he did not soar so high or so far, 
deeming that an important military house- 
hold for himself and an adequate number of 
attendants for the Empress would meet the 
requirements of their positions. But such pru- 
dent advice was not sought. In spite of those 
who tendered it, it was decided to do things on a 
higher scale. This was the more easily effected 
as the private expenditure of the Emperor, 
and all expenses he considered necessary, were 
in no way subjected to the control of the financial 
department. 

Napoleon was sufficiently versed in the history 
of successful men of great ambition to know the 
strength of the illusion created upon the minds of 
the crowd by the display of Royal pomp. So, on 
principle, and also through pride, he decided that 
the second Napoleonic period should appropriate 
the complicated hierarchy of its predecessor, its 



68 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

improvised nobility, its sonorous titles and solemn 
ceremonials. He had come to this decision the 
day he set foot in the palace of kings. Had he 
not been brought up to it from his infancy ? 
During the first seven years of his life he had 
enjoyed the privileges of a princely education. In 
the Castle of Arenenberg, the residence of Queen 
Hortense, his mother, a woman urged by the 
necessity to imitate the doings and gestures 
of royalty, there still remained the faded 
traces of a vanished glory in a very minute frame. 
A dethroned Queen living on the borders of a 
Swiss lake, with curtailed means and a few 
followers, Hortense rehearsed the splendour of 
the past, if only in memory. 

Voltaire has said, "The more uncivilized the 
country and the more pusillanimous its rulers, the 
greater will be the ceremonial they indulge in." 

Napoleon the Third did not share the 
philosopher's views. He hastened to adopt 
monarchical formalities which one might have 
thought dead for ever in France, since the 
Revolution had swept them away like so much 
dust. They were resuscitated in the spirit and 
the letter ; people grew accustomed to them, 
and regulations, however drastic, were gladly 
obeyed. Witness the rule which stated that 
on being ushered into the presence of the 
Sovereign, the subject should make three low 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 69 

bows, remove both gloves, and reply to His 
Majesty in the third person. During weeks 
and months these weighty questions were care- 
fully studied by busy Ministers, who thus devoted 
their time to those pursuits usually followed by 
idle folk. Details of proceedings, details of 
dress, of gold and silver lace, details concerning 
the numbers of stripes and buttons, their shapes 
and sizes, details of distinctions of privileges, 
absorbed their minds. Experts were consulted 
and asked to classify, codify and dogmatize all 
the childish futilities of the Protocole. 

With feverish ardour they compiled the texts 
and regulations of Court functions held under 
the old régime, as well as those copied from it 
by Napoleon the First. Thus was created 
a code with chapter and verse, the contents of 
which seemed strangely out of date and much 
belated in these days of republicanism. All 
such regulations were strictly adhered to. 

At the outset, the decree of equality was 
rescinded, a decree by which titles of nobility 
had been declared null and void. 1 On the 
23rd February, 1852, a ball was attended at the 
Tuileries by a host of people who had recently 
been rechristened and recreated barons, counts, 
marquises and dukes. It was soon learnt with 
general satisfaction that henceforth there would 
1 Decree of the 24th January, 1852. 



7o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

be a Lord High Chamberlain, 1 a Grand Master 
of the Palace, 2 a Grand Master of Ceremonies, 3 
a Grand Master of the Hounds, 4 and a Grand 
Master of the Horse. 5 All and sundry were 
informed that such ritual as had been born again 
would be strictly enforced. A proof of this was 
soon forthcoming in the ceremonial of the 
Emperor's wedding, and in the visits of their 
Majesties to England, and of Queen Victoria 
to France. 

Upon the questions of the homage and the 
tokens of respect and ceremonial due to the 
Empress and of the number and quality of 
those who were privileged to accompany her 
footsteps in her private apartments, in the chapel 
of the Tuileries, outside the palace, the Book 
of Imperial Ordinance was as complete as it 
was explicit. The same order was followed 
in her case as in that of her Imperial spouse. 
Presentations were to be made to her at her 
receptions. With such exceptions as those of 
Imperial Highnesses who had access to her by 
right of birth, all other mortals must seek and 
obtain audience, the petition for which was 
transmitted to her by numberless dignitaries 
of her household. At the hour of religious 

1 Duke of Bassano. 2 Field-Marshal Villiant. 

3 The Duke de Cambaceres. A Field-Marshal Magnan. 
6 General Fleury. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 71 

ceremonies the cortège of the Empress led the 
way to the chapel. Her Majesty was preceded 
by her pages, equerries and chamberlains, pre- 
ceded by princesses, followed by princesses, ladies 
in waiting, more princesses, and more ladies in 
waiting on princesses. The Grand Master had to 
follow her on her right at a distance of three feet, 
and the Mistress of the Robes on her left at a 
similar distance. All through the day, at stated 
times, and on the slightest provocation, certain 
honours had to be rendered to her in accordance 
with the circumstances of the hour. The doings 
of her entourage were carefully measured and set 
forth for every conceivable occasion and incident. 
The daughter of a Grandee of Spain, with as great 
a liking for titles as Napoleon himself, she was 
enamoured of all outward signs and tokens of 
nobility, armorial bearings, escutcheons, crests, and 
all the ancient lustre appertaining to old pedigrees. 
So it was that she wished to see in her suite not 
only barons, counts and dukes of the Empire, 
whose nobility could only boast of a few hours' 
existence, but also the authentic representatives of 
the old French houses. When the indefatigable 
Fialin, created Count and afterwards Duke de 
Persigny, said to her with ingenuous pride, " We, 
members of the nobility," she weighed it for 
what it was worth, and let him know that she 
would gladly look upon some armorial bearings 



72 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

whose coat of paint was somewhat drier than 
his. 

The first offers of appointments in her house- 
hold were made to the Duchesses de Lesparre and 
de Vicence. They declined haughtily, and some 
other great dames had to be chosen. The 
Duchess de Bassano did not offer any resistance, 
although the Duke, her husband, did not seem at 
all anxious to become Lord Chamberlain, or to see 
his wife as Mistress of the Robes. After some 
well-ordained hesitations, which called forth the 
renewed request that they sought, they accepted 
the appointments, and discharged their duties with 
eagerness, zeal and fidelity. In this spirit did they 
act until the end. 

It was no easy matter to bewitch the aristo- 
cratic Faubourg Saint-Germain. It displayed an 
irreconcilable mood, and one would have thought 
that not a single member of one of those 
haughty families, with pride of ancestry and 
pride of purse, would have consented to become 
a member of an exotic Court of parvenus. Their 
proud attitude, however, was doomed to soften 
soon. The attraction of honours easily obtained 
as well as large salaries soon brought about 
defections in the legitimist ranks. To such 
ambition was added the desire to shine, to live 
and love in pleasant company, instead of sulking 
in barren and monotonous isolation. Gradually 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 73 

Prince Charles of Beauveau, seduced by the 
promise of a senatorship, the Duke of Clillon, 
Prince de Beauveau-Craon and Count de la 
Montalembert, seceded from the Royalist camp. 
One and all were offered their price. It was 
accepted. The following year the " Purists " 
described as scandalous what they were pleased 
to call the desertion of the Duke de Mouchy, 
the Marquises de Pastoret and de la Rochejacque- 
lain and Prince de Beauffremont ; but their 
indignation knew no bounds when they learned 
that the Duke de Guiche had also yielded to the 
offers of the Emperor and the Empress, though 
he was the favoured heir of the Duchess d'An- 
goulême, Princess Royal, and should have been 
above temptation, thanks to the large income of 
,£36,000 a year which she allowed him. Count 
de Chambord and his intimate friends took the 
matter to heart, while the conversion of the Duke 
caused much joy at the Court of Napoleon. 
There was good reason for this, because such 
aristocratic elements lent much distinction and 
French elegance to the entourage as cosmopolitan 
as it was socially confused, which followed in the 
wake of the Countess of Teba on the morrow of 
her coronation. Meanwhile, the constitution of 
her service of honour was carefully proceeded 
with. Without dealing with the matter in the 
tyrannical spirit of the first Bonaparte, who had 



74 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

assumed the right to name, dismiss or take to 
task the ladies in waiting of Marie Louise, 
Napoleon III had categorically expressed the 
wish that the members of the Empress's house- 
hold should be forthwith appointed. The 
Duchess of Bassano had been appointed Lady of 
Honour. The Princess of Essling, daughter-in- 
law of Masséna, Duke of Bassano, and daughter of 
General Debelle, was appointed Mistress of the 
Household. She was a lady of freezing manner, 
with that haughty air common to people of small 
stature. She was most particular on matters of 
etiquette. So punctilious was she in the ob- 
servance of its ruling that she always drove in a 
ponderous and solemn-looking barouche, thus 
giving the example of impeccable propriety. 
Though intelligent and good-natured, she in- 
variably failed to produce a favourable first 
impression. Very often, the second and third 
impressions made by her were just as unsatisfac- 
tory as the first. . . . The Princess of Essling and 
the Duchess of Bassano were entrusted with all 
matters relating to presentations and audiences. 
Neither of them appeared at Court functions. 
The former, as Mistress of the Household, deter- 
mined the duties of the ladies in waiting, who 
at first numbered six and later twelve. 

The three first appointments included Vis- 
countess Aguado, Marquise de Las Marismas. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 75 

She had married the eldest of three Spanish 
brothers, known in Paris by their luxury and 
elegance. The charm and magnificence of her 
receptions was appreciated by all, and her house 
in the Rue de l'Elysée was, during many years, the 
chosen rendezvous of the foreign aristocracy and 
the members of the Court at the Tuileries. The 
list of ladies in waiting contained the names of 
Countess Adrienne de Montebello, née de Ville- 
neuve- Bargmont and maternal granddaughter of 
the Duchess de Vicence, Countess de Lezay- 
Marnésia, Baroness de Malaret, Marchioness de 
la Tour-Maubourg and Baroness de Pierre, the 
finest horsewoman in France. Though her 
courage in the hunting-field was undaunted, she 
was known to be a most timid lady, who would 
get confused on the slightest provocation. 

A little later a second list appeared, with 
the names of Madame de Sancy-Parabére, née 
Lefévre Desnouettes (whose delightful literary 
portrait drawn by the Marquis de Charnace, 
under the name of Herminie), and of the 
Countess de la Bedoyere, who later became 
Princess de la Moskowa, a moderately witty 
person, but decidedly handsome and showy. Her 
sister, the Countess de la Poëze, who was much 
devoted to her duties at Court, was endowed with 
a keen sense of humour much appreciated in her 
circle. Madame de Saulcy, a severe, stern and 



76 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

enigmatic lady with large black eyes and a some- 
what hard expression, was also handsome and 
possessed of sound judgment. She was a fit and 
worthy companion for Louis de Saulcy, a member 
of the Institute and a charming conversationalist, 
who devoted to the society of princes such time 
as he did not spend in the study of Byzantine 
numismatics. The Countess de Lourmel had 
neither much intelligence nor common-sense, and 
of the Baroness de Viry-Cohendier little is 
remembered, save her handsome brown eyes. 
She cultivated a jealous love for her husband, and 
was fanatically enamoured of Savoy, her native 
country ; Madame Ferey d'Isly, the daughter of 
Field-Marshal Bugeaud, soon resigned a post 
which she did not deem worthy of one whose 
father had been Governor-General of Algeria, and 
whose advent was heralded by the beating of drums 
and the marshalling of troops ; Madame Carette, 
granddaughter of Admiral Bouvet, was first ap- 
pointed second reader to the Empress, but after- 
wards promoted lady in waiting in the room of 
Madame Lezay-Marnésia. 

Two ladies in waiting took duty at a time. 
They did not live in the Tuileries. Each day a 
large barouche, bearing the Imperial coat-of-arms, 
called for them at their residences and brought 
them at a slow pace to their pleasant occupation. 
They generally arrived at two o'clock, and took 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS yy 

their seats in the drawing-room reserved for their 
use. It was an apartment furnished with the 
greatest elegance. Its bronzes and tapestries 
were in the purest Louis XVI style. On the 
ceiling and the panels of the doors were painted 
the most exquisite bunches of flowers. The 
ladies sat reading, embroidering or doing tapes- 
try, ready to communicate to Her Majesty, either 
directly or through the medium of the head 
usher, such facts or incidents which they deemed 
she should be apprised of. Off this drawing- 
room was another one decorated in pink, and 
leading to the blue drawing-room of the Empress, 
a marvel of delicate ornamentation, in which she 
gave audiences. Here Eugénie had collected 
in medallions the portraits of all the dazzling 
beauties of her Court, each of them representing 
by her dress a European nation. 

The household of the Empress was completed 
by the creation of two Chamberlains, the Marquis 
de Fiennes and Count de Cossé-Brissac, and of 
two equerries, Baron de Pierre and the Marquis 
Lagrange, both splendid sportsmen. This house- 
hold was much less numerous than that of the 
Emperor, but just as brilliant. 

When conferring the honours and sinecures at 
his disposal, Napoleon had satisfied the claims of 
all his followers, and afforded ample reward to the 
hosts of greedy Bonapartes, Eugénie followed 



;8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

his example and looked around her for friends of 
her youth upon whom she might bestow her 
favours, place and emoluments. 

The first name with which she charged her 
memory was that of Mérimée, who hourly had 
watched her progress until she had realized the 
fairylike dream of her childhood. When he said 
" Her Majesty " to the whilom child whom he had 
led through Paris crowds, he wondered if he was 
not the victim of an hallucination, or if he was 
playing charades as in the days gone by at the 
Countess of Montijo's. But what could she offer 
to this neurotic man of letters, a pessimist, too 
subtle or too indolent to bow his head to any yoke 
or to apply himself continuously to a set task ? 
Punctuality and regularity make for order, but are 
indissolubly linked with mediocrity of the average 
output. Besides, Mérimée asked for nothing. All 
he wanted was a front stall, to take stock of what 
was going on. To see the comedy and analyze 
it. Analysis was life to him. At one time it was 
suggested that he should be appointed Secretary 
of Royal Ordinances. He was approached upon 
the matter, but it seems evident that he spurned 
an offer which entailed upon him daily subjection 
at regular hours. His protectress had to seek 
and find him a better position. On the 23rd 
June, 1853, he learnt that he had been created a 
Senator. It was an easy position, the duties of 




THE EMPEROR AND EMPRESS. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 79 

which he could discharge at his own sweet will in 
the spirit or in the flesh. It afforded a yearly- 
income of ,£1200, and every opportunity for 
studying in their detail the political comedies and 
dramas that were enacted in the Senate. The 
Empress displayed more pleasure at the appoint- 
ment than Mérimée himself. When Napoleon 
informed her of the news, she testified to her 
satisfaction in so spontaneous a manner that she 
warmly embraced her husband. 

Other names and other personalities less im- 
portant were remembered by her, such as the 
Abbé Boudinet, the insinuating priest who years 
before at a dinner-party had the lucky inspiration 
to prophesy her advent to a throne. A telegram 
bade him to the Tuileries, where he was informed 
of his appointment to the See of Amiens. She 
also remembered an old friend in Madrid, a fervent 
admirer of Spanish literature, Damas-Hinard, 
who was appointed Secretary of Ordinances. He 
was most circumspect, an ideal official, very 
reverential, who, though compelled to see the 
Empress daily and in intimacy, always stood in 
her presence bowed in two. 

The Spanish element, as is easily understood, 
was fully represented in the circle of the new 
Sovereign. She at least had the good taste not 
to underline her foreign origin by imposing 
Spanish ways and habits, as well as Spanish 



So THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

individuals, upon the French nation. For in- 
stance, she carefully eschewed the advice of those 
who urged her to popularize in France such gaudy, 
noisome and blood-stained pursuits as bull-fights. 
On the other hand, Napoleon somewhat favoured 
the idea because, imbued with his knowledge of 
Roman history, this future historian of the Caesars 
saw in bull-fighting the means of resuscitating the 
old gladiatorial games. " The French people," 
he said, "are fond of emotional games." Thus, 
he was wont to compare exhibitions of pluck and 
endurance with displays of useless and barbarous 
cruelty that could never find favour in Central or 
Northern France. He added that the excitement 
provided by such prowess was sure to engender 
deeds of courage. Though often led astray by 
the impulse of her ardent nature, Eugénie was 
not deceived in this matter. She realized, and 
made him understand, that bull-fights would be a 
signal failure in Paris, so in the blue drawing- 
room of the Empress the subject was severely 
dropped. 

When the conferring of titles and distinctions 
had been accomplished, not a few observed that 
no preferment had been found for the mother of 
the Empress. She was not even termed " Her 
Highness." " Could it be," they inquired, "that 
Madame de Montijo preferred her own independ- 
ence and the habits of Spanish society to such 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 81 

foreign honours as might be conferred upon her 
at the Court of her daughter ? Or was her aloof- 
ness to be explained by more serious and secret 
reasons ? " It has been said with a certain sem- 
blance of truth that she always preferred her elder 
daughter, the Duchess of Alba, and that serious 
differences occurred between herself and the 
Empress long after the latter had effected the 
brilliant marriage, which was mainly brought 
about by her mother's diplomacy. 

Shortly after the wedding-day, the Countess 
left for Spain. Prosper Mérimée, her faith- 
ful friend and correspondent, accompanied her 
as far as Poitiers, and, a few weeks later, he wrote 
to her, recalling the events to hand. 

"What a dreadful thing it must be to have 
daughters and to see them married ! But Scrip- 
ture says that woman must leave her parents to 
follow her husband. Now that you have done 
your duty as a mother (and forsooth none can 
deny that you have effected brilliant matches for 
your daughters), you must begin to live for your- 
self, and try to cultivate a little selfishness." 

The advice was welcome. It fell in with the 
free-and-easy tastes of the Countess, and she 
acted upon it without hesitation. In Madrid, she 
resumed her former existence, watching the course 
of her daughter's career from afar, without inter- 
fering with it in any way, and preserving in her 



82 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

native country the status and aspirations of a 
great Spanish lady. 

Her manner was in no way changed by the 
sovereign rank conferred upon her daughter in 
the most marvellous way. It did not make her 
more enamoured of her daughter or of herself. 
Whether her absence from the Imperial Court 
was dictated solely by her own will, or by the 
desire of the Emperor to prevent her from seeking 
self-aggrandizement, the fact remained that she 
never did assume the rank to which blood ties 
entitled her. 

Nearer to her eyes, if not nearer to her heart, 
stood Eugenie's Napoleonic connections, who had 
shared the fruits of her promotion, but who chafed 
under it. In accordance with the Protocole that 
obtains in monarchies, the supreme rank of 
Majesty needs have in its wake a number of 
Imperial or Royal Highnesses, branches more or 
less ramified of the same tree. Napoleon the 
Third must needs enforce the tradition, were it only 
to give greater brilliancy to the importance of his 
prattling dynasty. He improved upon the ancient 
Protocole of the Kings of France by instituting 
two classes of Highnesses, the first and the 
second, the Imperial Family and the civil one. 
The former title was conferred only upon Jérôme 
and his European descendants, to the exclusion of 
the American or Patterson branch of his lineage. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 83 

The other members of the Emperor's family, 
though just as closely related to him, only shared 
in a very small degree the honours and emolu- 
ments of the civil list, a rich cake indeed, but 
the greater part of which was requisitioned by the 
Imperial Highnesses. Though honours, dowries 
and favours were showered upon them with a 
generosity unhoped for, King Jérôme and his 
family knew little of gratitude, and never rallied 
faithfully or frankly to the interests of Napoleon 
the Third. They considered him a usurper, 
occupying a throne that should be theirs, and 
their feelings towards the Empress were still 
more bitter, for they had opposed her marriage 
with all their might. 

It was, as we have said, in the house of Princess 
Mathilde that her cousin Louis Napoleon met 
Mademoiselle de Montijo for the first time. To 
the Princess he first confided those matrimonial 
intentions which had met at her hands with un- 
compromising disapproval. But finding that she 
was unable to alter his decision by words, she 
tried to do so by deeds, throwing herself at his 
feet, and conjuring of him to give up a project 
which, if effected, could only jeopardize his career 
by stopping his ambitious progress. How could 
words or arguments prevail against the powerful 
effects of love ? The Princess Mathilde was not 
only unheeded, but compelled as an Imperial 



84 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Highness to play a leading part at the great 
function, and to master with a ready-made smile 
the feelings of jealous hate and bitterness that 
filled her soul. Forthwith she was invited to the 
Tuileries after the marriage ceremony, and com- 
pelled to dine face to face with her successful 
rival, who now occupied the throne that might 
have been hers, had she been allowed by her 
father to encourage the advances of the quondam 
obscure Pretender. 

So great was the antithesis between the two 
women, both in ideas and in character, that no 
perfect harmony could ever exist between their 
minds. At the beginning of their era of pros- 
perity, they cultivated but a lukewarm affection 
for one another, and at times their relations were 
more than strained. Their mutual ties were only 
strengthened by adversity. Etiquette and cere- 
monious regulations caused visible restraint that 
was witnessed by all. Between the Empress and 
Prince Jérôme a similar state of mind existed. 
Their relations were even more strained, amount- 
ing almost to avowed enmity. She reproached 
him with being an unscrupulous libertine, a 
turbulent democrat, an audacious free-thinker, 
while apprehending the dangers accruing from his 
political ambition. He condemned her unbending 
ultramontanism, and her unswerving devotion to 
the Papacy. He accused her of being frivolous, 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 85 

extravagant, irresponsible, exaggerating her 
defects, minimizing her qualities. He had 
admired her beauty when she was only the 
elegant foreigner, the admired pet of Paris society. 
When she took the final step which bore her 
so high, he only beheld in her the Spaniard, the 
enemy whose marriage with its presumable con- 
sequences had widened the breach that separated 
him from power, the one object of his ardent 
aspirations. Yielding to his daring frankness, 
that brutal cynical frankness which betrayed itself 
in his speech and caused such prejudice to his 
intelligence, he would shout his anger, his hatred 
and his disappointment to the winds, caring little 
if the echo bore them back to the ears of Eugénie. 
Under such circumstances, it is little wonder that 
she did not betray much sympathy towards him, 
or that she did not endeavour to stay the intrigues 
of such coteries as endeavoured to undermine the 
position of the Emperor's cousin. Some years 
later the advent of Princess Clotilde, daughter of 
Victor Emmanuel, married for state reasons 
to the ex- King of Westphalia, tempered the 
relations between the Tuileries and the Palais 
Royal with a modicum of wisdom and propriety. 
But even so clear-sighted and able a Princess as 
Clotilde was unable to kindle any warmth or true 
affection between the parties. The proof of this 
was soon afforded to the Empress on the occasion 



86 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of the festivals held in honour of Jérôme and 
Clotilde, his newly-wedded wife. No effort had 
been spared to impart due magnificence to the 
presentation ceremony on the 3rd February, 1859. 
Princess Mathilde had gone to meet their High- 
nesses at the station of Fontainebleau, and on 
the platform they were awaited by Magnan, a 
Field -Marshal of France, and Commander-in- 
Chief of the army in Paris, by General Lowce- 
stein, the Prefect of Police, the Sardinian Legation 
and a host of minor dignitaries. An infantry 
regiment lined the street at the Lyons station, 
and at the Tuileries the newly-married couple 
were greeted by Napoleon, who stood at the foot 
of the grand staircase, surrounded by all his house- 
hold. The Empress, escorted by her ladies in 
waiting, had gone to meet Princess Clotilde at 
the entrance of the gallery, where she greeted her 
with the most affectionate embrace. But Clotilde's 
gratitude was of short duration. That evening, 
Eugénie, interpreting as timidity the excessive 
reserve which was of the nature of Clotilde, pro- 
ceeded to give her advice to supply her want of 
experience, holding her hand in hers, as a good 
and affectionate relative. She was thanked for 
her pains in words which she could never forget. 
" Madame, you are very good, but you seem to 
forget that I was born and brought up at Court." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 87 

None was so ceremonious as this austere Princess 
of the House of Austria. One can only form an 
idea of her character by reading the description of 
the presentations and audiences that took place at 
the Palais Royal. Hers was a cold nature, devoid 
of all effusion. She chilled all those who came 
near her. An audience with the Princess Clotilde 
was freezing, and of short duration. At the 
appointed hour, the person to whom it had been 
granted had to wait in one of the drawing-rooms 
of the Palace, there to be received by Madame 
Barbier and an equerry. After exchanging a 
few words in a whisper, as if in a sacred temple, 
they led the victim to the door of Her Highness's 
salon, a sumptuous, refrigerating apartment, lofty, 
long and wide out of all proportion. At the 
extreme end Clotilde was seated in front of the 
fireplace beside a low table on which stood a 
shaded lamp. She would rise upon the introduc- 
tion of her visitor, who from the threshold was to 
proceed slowly, bowing low while the Princess 
acknowledged her presence by the slightest in- 
clination of the head, standing erect with her 
arms folded across her chest. Then a halt in the 
centre of the drawing-room, another low bow, 
followed by another halt, and then again a bow, 
and a second inclination of the Princess's head. 
On reaching her, a final bow, the respectful kiss 



88 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of hands, followed by the imperious gesture of 
Clotilde pointing to the arm-chair, which was to 
be occupied on the other side of the room. Under 
such conditions the conversation proceeded with 
difficulty. It practically ended as soon as it 
began. Without looking at her caller, man or 
woman, the Princess would roll off a number of 
hurried words or phrases befitting the situation or 
the object of the visit, then after getting the 
answers she would rise from her chair, thereby in- 
timating that the audience must cease, and in the 
same low tone would bid good-bye. The visitor 
traversed the same road, performed the same 
halts, and bowing backwards, left the room. As 
the door was opened, the Royal Clotilde was 
beheld for the last time standing rigidly as if 
transfixed, with her arms still folded across her 
chest. Such was the final impression created by 
a private audience with the Princess of Savoy. 

There could be no ties of friendship between her 
cousin and herself as long as the Empire lasted. 
She knew her duties towards the Empress, and 
performed them without warmth, without en- 
thusiasm, as she performed every act, emanating 
from a sullen, mysterious nature as colourless and 
emotionless as were her pale eyes. Her appear- 
ances at Court were very few and far between. 

We have shown that the relations between the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 89 

members of the Imperial Family were in reality 
bereft of all cordiality, however well ordained by 
irreproachable etiquette. In due time two rival 
parties were forthcoming, and in turn Napoleon 
had to submit to their contending influence, 
oscillating between them as long as his reign 
lasted. For the nonce the existence of those 
parties was not openly recognized. Politics did 
not absorb the mind of the graceful Sovereign 
who basked in the joy of a realized dream, and in 
her daily successes and nightly triumphs. 

As a result of the adoption of monarchical con- 
vention, the magnificence and dignity of Court 
functions were greatly enhanced. The ladies who 
surrounded the Empress beautified the picture by 
their luxury and elegance, while the great Court 
dignitaries, Chamberlains, Prefects and Equerries, 
strove hard to enhance its glory. The Tuileries 
had never witnessed the kindling of so many 
brilliant lights. The Court of Napoleon the 
Third was a brilliant one indeed, whenever circum- 
stances enabled it to meet. But in spite of this 
pompous ceremonial, extraordinary events suc- 
ceeded one another with such rapidity that there 
was little time or opportunity for establishing 
anything like permanent institutions at such a 
Court. Under the restoration, an essential in- 
fluence was lacking. The woman, the Queen, 



9o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

was, as it were, absent from the King's Court. 
The simple and parsimonious tastes of Louis 
Philippe were still fresh in the public memory. 
Under Napoleon and Eugénie, the staging was 
unequalled for wealth and spectacular grandeur 
during their years of prosperity. 



CHAPTER IV 

Early period of the reign — The beginning of greatness — State 
receptions— The presentation of ladies at Court — Official 
balls — Sketches of some of the guests on gala nights — The 
Empress's Monday " At Homes " — Curious nature of 
these receptions — The daily occupations and amusements 
of the Empress - — Her temporary infatuation for spiritualism 
and table-turning — The Court enjoys itself throughout 1853 
and 1854 while the Crimean War was fought — Oppos- 
ing influences at work upon the mind of Eugénie — Her 
excess of haughtiness vies with her natural nonchalance — Her 
early political _ tendencies, _stilL. remain subordina£e_.to her 
duties as first lady at her own Court — The aristocratic 
element of that Court — Strange composition of its female 
constituents — The most brilliant period of the reign. 

Gala concerts, festivities and rejoicings, journeys 
far and wide surrounded by pomp and state, the 
foundation of charitable institutions carefully 
brought to the public notice — thus were the 
happy beginnings of this period. 

On the evening when for the first time 
Eugénie opened a State ball as Empress all eyes 
were fixed upon her, examining her every feature, 
seeking a vulnerable spot, but all were surprised 
to find none. 

General satisfaction was expressed, only 

interrupted by some slight exhibitions of bad 

temper, caused in some feminine groups by the 

wealth of the Empress's beauty and attractions. 

91 



92 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

The recalcitrants from the noble Faubourg Saint- 
Germain were discernible by their disdainful mien 
and ironical laughter. 

They whispered audibly unkind comments 
upon the décolletage which they termed ex- 
tremely Spanish. It is true that the bearing of 
the neck, shoulders and bust of the young 
Empress was of so generous a nature that its 
effect was somewhat disconcerting to the men 
in general, who had to bow low as they passed 
before the very low chair upon which she was 
seated. It was particularly noticed that the 
papal nuncio had prolonged his bow, and 
accentuated it with evident pleasure. This 
caused the Ambassador of a Protestant Power 
to remark that His Eminence looked like a 
diving cardinal finch. 1 

Though she was not in the first bloom of 
youth — for twenty-seven or twenty-eight years 
begin to count in the life of every woman — 
Eugénie was in the spring-time of her existence. 
Her profile had all the refinement of a beautiful 
cameo, although the lower part of the face was 
somewhat too rounded. 2 The features were 

1 This was an allusion to the American bird called "car- 
dinal," whose plumage is of a rich red like that of the 
cardinal's purple. 

2 The oval line of the face was not perfect, for it was not 
sufficiently attenuated towards the lower part; otherwise the 
profile was most classical. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 93 

admirable in their detail — two blue eyes full 
of life and light that did not reveal the fact that 
they could ever cast an angry glance ; a very 
small and charming mouth with graceful contours ; 
a skin so delicate as to be almost transparent ; a 
brilliant complexion, and hair neither red nor fair 
nor auburn, 1 but the colour of which was unique, 
thanks to a secret treatment of it. The most that 
could be said against her by her critics was that 
she was too short-waisted, like many Spanish 
ladies, but this question was barely touched upon, 
and was deemed insignificant compared with the 
perfection of the neck and shoulders. 

However strong her natural pride and her 
inclination to consider fortune's favours as a 
just tribute paid to her charms, she was at first 
overcome by a certain timidity owing to the 
suddenness of her metamorphosis. 

Borne to such heights, she felt the need for 
guidance, lest she missed her step through vertigo. 
Her eyes, generally bathed in languor, assumed 
a look of simple joy or soft surprise which pro- 
duced an excellent effect. With sufficient diffi- 
dence, she triumphed modestly. It was a short 
period of charming hesitancy. Courtiers were 
soon convinced, however, that ere long she 

1 In 1856 Baron von Moltke wrote thus to his wife: "It 
would be truer to describe the Empress of the French as 
a brunette." 



94 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

would learn the part and fittingly perform the 
duties of a Queen. At the outset she found it 
difficult to practise the rules of etiquette. But 
soon she felt that they were a necessity, the 
neglect of which impeded her breathing and her 
movements. It seemed, after five or six weeks' 
experience of life as an Empress, that she had 
never been Mademoiselle de Montijo. Nay, either 
through jealousy or through other motives, she 
was actually reproached with not sufficiently 
preserving that personality. Her detractors were 
wont to say that the bride of yesterday had been 
quite absorbed by a reign of a few days. They 
added that the improvised Sovereign had become 
the mistress of her house, who knew her power 
and made it felt by her manner, her gestures, her 
stern orders and the assumed look of indifference 
to all that she really had at heart. 

It would have been difficult for her to escape 
the intoxication of pride, when witnessing such 
demonstrations of ceremonious pomp as that 
displayed regularly on the occasion of Court 
drawing-rooms, at which took place the presenta- 
tion to her of the ladies of France. At nine 
o'clock in the morning, the Corps Diplomatique 
met in the Louis XIV chamber, which was next 
to the throne room where the Court foregathered. 
The Emperor and the Empress stood on a plat- 
form surmounted by a dais, with the Ministers, 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 95 

Field-Marshals, Admirals and high dignitaries 
on their right, while on the left stood the 
ladies in waiting. Facing them was the Corps 
Diplomatique. When all had taken up their 
positions, presenting a grandiose picture in 
accordance with the ceremonial imported from 
the Court of Bavaria by Count Tacher de la 
Pagerie, 1 the march past of the ladies began. 
From four to five hundred of them, headed by 
Madame Fould, made their obeisance to the 
Empress. The Princess of Essling, the Mistress 
of the Robes, named them in turn as they bowed 
low, followed by a long queue of guests. 
They were not all irreproachable or very dis- 
tinguished in their bearing, but the magnificence 
of the apartment, the brilliant éclat of the throne's 
occupants, the dazzling uniforms, the gorgeous 
toilettes and priceless jewels, presented a striking 
and magnificent ensemble. These were, indeed, 
triumphant days for the Empire, witnessed with 
pain by those who kept aloof in the exercise of 
their duty towards the exiled Princes. 2 

1 Countess Charles Tascher de la Pageni was distinguished 
by the majesty of her deportment, the slowness of her move- 
ments, in this gymnastic exercise. 

2 The receptions at Frohsdorf of Count de Chambord were 
anything but gay. They were presided over by Madame, calm 
serene and frigid. Here is a sketch describing the King's 
daily occupations. It affords an interesting comparison between 
the Court of the Tuileries and that of the Pretender. 

"The meal having been promptly dispatched, Madame 



9 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Each night there was a fresh gathering of 
beauty, at which the gold lace and the aiguillettes 
of the brilliant uniforms provided a handsome 
background for the exquisite freshness of the ladies' 
toilettes. On all sides one saw the handsomest 
uniforms copied on that of the master. Generals 
and officers of the Emperor's household wore white 
breeches and silk stockings, with buckled shoes. 
The breeches had been discarded since the 
Restoration. The civil servants, studded with 
orders and decorations, had no reason to be 
jealous of the military, because they too wore 
Court uniforms with heavy embroidered cuffs and 
collars, swords and cocked hats. 1 Besides these 



would return to the drawing-room, where she worked at her 
tapestry or embroidery, surrounded by her ladies in waiting, 
who were likewise engaged. When the post arrived, all were 
allowed to read their letters. Monseigneur and the gentlemen 
in waiting would glance at the papers. As soon as eleven 
struck, the Princes retired to their apartments. 

" The evening dragged on painfully until nine, through the 
absence of strangers. When Monseigneur felt sure that his 
words would not provide food for a leading article, he was 
wont to indulge in witticisms that often provoked a haughty 
laugh. When the séance came to an end in the drawing-room 
the men would doff their dress-coats and don their smokers, 
while the ladies who did not wish to retire so early were com- 
pelled to seek refuge in the drawing-room of the worthy 
Countess de Chabannes, there to sip an insipid cup of tea and 
take part in the most insipid conversation." 

1 The equerry on duty wore a special uniform, consisting of 
tunic, buckskin breeches, patent top-boots and patent Hessian 
boots. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 9 7 

ornamental accoutrements, they wore a most 
satisfied air. 

Eugénie delighted in presiding at these balls, 
that lasted from the beginning of January till 
Lent, which was devoted to religious ceremonies 
and spiritual concerts. 1 

Napoleon, while encouraging them, was only 
interested in the organization of these musical 
parties. Has it not been said of him that he got 
up bored, that he went through the day bored, and 
that he retired to bed bored ? The preludes of the 
festival were watched by him with some interest, 
but soon the Imperial dreamer began to dream, and 
if he played his part to the end it was merely 
through a sense of duty. With every good inten- 
tion, he endeavoured to shake off his natural apathy 
and to be amiable to his guests. He would go from 
group to group twisting the waxed ends of his 
moustache, stopping to greet newcomers, and find- 
ing a tactful phrase that soon made them feel at 
ease. Unfortunately his attention could not be 
riveted for long, and his eternal absent-minded- 
ness laid hold of him and soon spoilt things. He 

1 During this penitential period the Emperor and Empress 
deemed it their duty to attend every spiritual concert. They 
suffered them all to the bitter end, with stoic dignity. Her 
Majesty yawned behind her fan, while the Emperor beat time 
with his head so as to stave off sleep. When the ordeal was 
over, they showered praises on the artist, the best obtainable, 
who performed under the leadership of Auber. 



CF 

UN! 

Of 



9 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

would then mix up names, mistake one person for 
another, asking questions without waiting for the 
answers. If his sleepy eyes caught sight of a 
pretty woman, he would hurry away to her side, 
leaving his unfortunate interlocutor dumfounded. 1 

The Empress on retiring from these balls was 
always very tired, and often did not even take 
time to call her ladies in waiting ; so anxious was 
she to rid her head and shoulders of the weight of 
the diadem and necklaces, that she would take 
them off with her own hands and throw them 
pell-mell into the satin or velvet lap of one of 
her ladies' skirts. She would then retire to her 
dressing-room and prepare for the night's rest. 
Dona Eugenia, like all Southern women, was late 
to bed. 

The Court galas took place in the gallery of 
Peace and in that of the Marshals of France. 
Two orchestras held sway, and the apartments 
of the first floor were brilliantly lighted. The 
guests entered through the gate of the Horioge 

1 " The women who knew his peculiarities — and there were a 
few who did — tried by every means to come near him. It was 
most amusing to watch the evolutions of the great coquettes of 
the day. On that evening Madame de Neuwied and Madame 
de Saint-Briene changed their seats at least ten times without 
any possible reason, and walked across the rooms in every sense, 
in order to attract the notice of the Emperor and to elicit 
some complimentary remarks from him " (Marquise de Taisy- 
Chatenoy, A la Cour de Napoleon III). 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 99 

Pavilion. They slowly ascended the staircase of 
honour, on each step of which was a cent-garde, 
superb in his blue tunic, his patent top-boots and 
his shining helmet and cuirass. In the Louis 
XIV salon the presentations took place, and the 
Emperor and Empress received the homage of 
the Corps Diplomatique. He wore the uniform 
of a full general, with the Grand Cordon and the 
Star of the Legion of Honour, while the Empress 
wore a diadem and the richest jewels of the 
Crown. Preceded by the great officers of 
their household, the ladies in waiting, the 
prefects of the palace, clad in gold and amarinth, 
the orderly officers in pale blue and silver, 
and the masters of ceremonies in violet and 
gold, Napoleon and his Consort would vacate 
the Louis XIV room, and walk through the throne 
room, the Apollo and the First Consul's room. 
When the chief of the State had reached the 
Marshals' room, a herald announced in stentorian 
tones, "The Emperor." The orchestra struck up 
the air of " Queen Hortense." The Sovereigns 
then occupied the arm-chairs that awaited them, 
and the ball began. During the course of the even- 
ing they would rise. Making their exit through 
the Marshals' gallery, and addressing some amiable 
words to those around them, they usually repaired 
to the gallery of Diana, where supper was served. 
Supper was taken standing, and four or five 



loo THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

thousand guests would lay siege to the hospitable 
buffets. During the intervals between the 
dances and quadrilles, those present busied them- 
selves naming the principal guests of note, whose 
presence might be due to the privilege of a 
name, to their official position, to the honour 
conferred upon holders of brand-new titles, or 
perhaps to private invitations due for the most 
part to the beauty of their women folk. Busy- 
bodies eagerly pointed out the notorieties of the 
day, especially the pure Elysians whose ambition 
had brought about and made possible the restora- 
tion of the Empire. 

At the head of them was Morny — the sensible, 
intelligent, supple and clear-headed Morny. It is 
useless to recall how he sacrificed Republican 
liberties upon the altar of a Caesarian régime, 
thanks to which he could exercise his rights 
and privileges and freely distribute sinecures 
and honours to his friends. He had quickly 
chosen men capable of becoming the instruments 
of a daring policy, bereft of scruples, heedless of 
the illegitimacy of the means employed in the 
obtainment of the end, a flexible policy which, 
having secured success, lent itself readily to 
tolerance. It was he who, speaking of the timid 
Orleanists, was wont to say before the Coup 
d'État, " They are incapable of taking a sword 
in hand or putting their hand to their pockets. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 101 

We can do without such people ! " Men can be 
judged by such expressions. This one was re- 
peated to me by General Estancelin fifty years 
after he heard it spoken. No one v/airced to 
remember Morny as the councillor of a perjurer, 
or the instigator of the massacres on the boule- 
vards, who beheld him smiling placidly through 
the drawing-rooms of the Tuileries, a little 
haughty perhaps, but very courteous to men whom 
he despised, and very winning with women whom 
he knew he could conquer. When goaded on by 
ambition, he always knew how to curb his feelings 
if it was necessary that he should please. A 
statesman and a man of the world, a frantic 
gambler and an incorrigible votary of this world's 
voluptuous pursuits, he lived up to his motto, which 
taught that life should yield to man all sensations 
procurable through power of wealth or pleasure. 
Though Morny wielded the sceptre of elegance, 
Flain de Perseying had a personality none the less 
striking. The carriage of his head, his short 
whiskers and waxed moustache, his open and 
resolute countenance, his excessive ardour, which 
at times caused him to be voted a nuisance, 
all tended to make of him the Loyola of the 
Empire, the fanatic of the Napoleonic faith. His 
words were unmeasured, and his merciless darts 
made many enemies, who only awaited an oppor- 
tunity to hurl him from his exalted position. 



io2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Those very idiosyncrasies arrested attention. 
He would captivate the intelligence and in turn 
baffle the common-sense of those with whom he 
came into contact. At times absent-minded to a 
•degree, and at other times treating with consum- 
mate eloquence some weighty subject, he could 
always command the confidence of his hearers. 

Prince Napoleon was satisfied to sulk in a 
corner, and there receive the adulation of his 
admirers. To all it was evident that his one 
ambition was to be master of the Tuileries, and 
not a Highness on a visit there. He seemed 
detached from the present and absorbed by some 
far-away dream, dreaming perhaps that some day 
France might be happy to throw herself into his 
arms! 

Within the circle of thoughtful men, among 
diplomatists, a Drouyn de Lhuys or a Walewski 
called for notice. The former, a sagacious and 
far-seeing man, enjoyed the respect and esteem 
due to a great and noble character. His features 
were more than handsome, and they would have 
betrayed the secret of his Napoleonic birth had 
the story of his birth been a secret to any one. 
The effect of his physical charms would have 
been still greater had his manners been less cold 
and conventional. He was endowed with great 
tenacity of purpose, and with a thorough know- 
ledge of the mainsprings of foreign politics. As a 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 103 

Minister of Napoleon the Third he was doomed to 
realize that with a master whose one idea of diplo- 
macy was to contradict others and himself, it 
was useless to endeavour to put principles into 
practice, and follow a definite line of conduct. 
Statesmen like Baroche, Billault and Fould called 
for special mention, but the attention of women 
was mainly arrested by the representatives of 
the foreign colony, the d'Ottenfels, the Blomers, 
Reuss, the gilded youth of diplomacy. They 
also took notice of some Spanish Grandees, with 
tall titles and very small statures, the Medina Ccelis 
Ossuna y Infantados, and the Albas. The fantastic 
Field-Marshal Vaillant, the elegant Fleury, and in 
ironical contrast to him the valiant Canrobert, 
far from elegant but doing his utmost to appear 
so, such were some of the telling lights in the 
military set. Canrobert afforded much amusement 
by endeavouring to atone for his short and squatty 
appearance by the dignity of his deportment, the 
cut of his clothes and the curling of his hair. 
Heroes are apt to yield to human weaknesses. 

Countless interesting types might be sketched 
among the numbers of individuals decked in 
gold lace and brilliant trappings. Again, in the 
charming bouquet of lovely young women we 
could describe many exquisite creatures, and tarry 
long in our description. Of course in the number 
there were some stripped of all charms, prudes, 



io4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Jansenists of a new school that feigned to shun 
pleasure, the ambiguous by-products of aristocracy, 
the middle classes and the world of finance, one 
and all constructed upon a false basis. Women 
with commonplace and heavy features, from whom 
men were wont to fly. Severe-looking women 
who seemed to have lost their way, and who had 
come there only to put a stop to merriment. If, 
on the one hand, such ladies of honour as the 
Princesse de la Moskowa and others were the 
incarnation of the worldly element, others like 
Mdme. de Rayneval and Countess de Latour 
Maubourg, penitents of the Abbé Deguerry, 
the rector of the Madeleine, bore the austere 
features of devotion, wherever they went. Apart 
from such, and they were in the vast minority, one 
could not fail to be seduced by the sight of a bevy 
of beautiful women covered with diamonds, whose 
high coiffures threw out in bold relief the white- 
ness of their satin necks and shoulders. 

These brilliant butterflies were spontaneously 
evolved under exceptional circumstances. The 
Court at which they fluttered was of yesterday's 
creation, and they who added to its beauty were 
yesterday's chrysalids. They had had no time to 
fade. Hence a galaxy of youth and beauty that 
could not be matched. The sudden irruption of 
ambitious courtiers who had followed in the wake 
of the Coup d'État had, of course, produced a 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 105 

shower of honours and a lavish distribution of 
favours. Numerous households were started on a 
footing of luxury and elegance hardly hoped for by 
the innumerable chamberlains and other upstarts. 
Many of these were bachelors who could have 
made very good matches. The prettiest and 
most charming girls were invited to share their 
good fortune. They did so the more readily as 
they had come to obtain all they could from the 
new régime, and to take as good a bite out of the 
cake of pleasure as could be effected by their 
pretty teeth. They threw themselves into a 
movement in which were distinguishable by their 
novel bearing and their intelligence a few great 
ladies of the diplomatic set, and of aristocratic 
families who had linked their fortunes to that of 
the Second Empire. Composed of such diverse 
elements, the gathering was indeed incomparable ! 

In her happiest hours, Eugénie surrounded 
herself with pretty faces that set her off as a 
handsome parure sets off a pretty gown. The 
indescribable nature of her personal attractions 
was enhanced by the contrast of a harmonious 
gathering, in which were reflected her elegance, 
her prestige and her radiant youth. 

Many of the most attractive ladies at Court 
were invited to the Monday "At Homes," and to 
the small dances of the Empress. These were 
social gatherings of a less solemn nature, and 



io6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

therefore much more enjoyable and more select 
than the State functions. They were given after 
Easter in a series to which were bidden in turn 
the State dignitaries, diplomatists, eminent writers, 
and those whom Napoleon and his Consort wished 
to favour. The number of invitations never 
exceeded five hundred. At such gatherings, the 
Emperor and his household wore the dark-blue 
uniform with velvet collar and gold buttons ; the 
other men present wore black evening dress, with 
tight breeches and stockings. The ladies, in 
accordance with their sweet habits, vied with one 
another in extravagant elegance. These balls, 
preceded by exclusive dinner-parties, took place 
in the salon of the First Consul, which was reached 
through the salon of Apollo. The ladies awaited 
the arrival of Her Majesty, standing in a double 
row, through which the Empress passed bowing 
gracefully to the right and to the left. She 
seemed to be inspecting a flying squadron of 
graceful and worldly beauties. She witnessed 
the dancing of the squares, quadrilles, lancers 
and minuets from an adjoining drawing-room, 
in which she sat chatting with the guests that 
she had bidden there, or who had found their 
way to her side in virtue of their intimate friend- 
ship with Her Majesty. 1 

1 Among the privileged ones may be mentioned Lord 
Cowley, Hubner, Metternich, Nigra ; her circle of intimate 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 107 

She was particularly attentive to foreign noble- 
men who represented in France the interests of 
the Great Powers. Count Hubner received signal 
marks of her kindness, and was constantly bidden 
to her side until the tendency at Court became 
anti-Austrian, on the eve of the war with Italy. 
Hubner, Austria's first Ambassador to Paris, was 
at all Court functions and at the Monday " At 
Homes." He was often invited to Fontainebleau, 
Compiègne or to Saint-Cloud, when the Court 
went there into residence. On the 13th October, 
1853, he was at a dinner-party at Saint-Cloud, 
which he thought very select, although he was 
wont at times to complain of the lack of aristocracy 
at this French Court. He had met the Princess 
Mathilde, the Princess of Essling, Mistress of the 
Household, Viscountess Aguado, Field-Marshal 
Vaillant, the Grand Master of the Palace, Fleury, 
and the indispensable Bacciochi. Eugénie was 
on that day full of chat and gaiety on her 
return from Dieppe, where the sea-bathing 
had somewhat thinned and beautified her. She 
flitted from one subject to another with Southern 
vivacity, and among other subjects, she recalled 
the murderous attempt of the Opéra Comique. 
"The Police," she said, "are instituted in order 
to unravel plots and bring them to light, but 

friends included Mérimée, Edouard Delessert, Onesyme, 
Aguado, Hidalgo, Guel y Rente. 



io8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

no remedy can prevail against such regicides as 
those of Madrid and Vienna. Here the task of 
the Police is an easier one." So she proceeded in 
a light vein. 

On another occasion, on the 15th May, 1854, 
at a dinner to which seventy-four guests were 
bidden, the Empress expressed the wish that 
the representative of Austria-Hungary should be 
seated on her right. Seldom was she so gay or 
so expansive. By chance she quoted a Spanish 
legend that commended itself to her romantic 
tastes : " Though the world gazes upon me, my 
looks are directed towards one alone." This she 
interpreted with her turbulent imagination, her 
unaffected sprightliness — her greatest charm, if at 
times it proved a great drawback to the women 
of Madrid and Granada. Once more she had 
become Mademoiselle de Montijo. 

At other times she would take the Ambassador 
to one side, and converse with him upon matters 
of a vastly different nature. 

" My worship for you, Madame, increases every 
day," was the ordinary opening sentence of the 
diplomatist. 

" But at your Court it decreases every day," 
replied the Empress. "You are too bitter. On 
the occasion of the funeral service of Princess 
Thcodolinde at Stuggart, Monsieur de Buol said, 
' It is high time to put a stop to the invasions of 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 109 

France.' You are too bitter about small things, 
and we do not seem to understand each other 
about important ones." 

Even at this time she seemed to take the 
keenest interest in questions concerning peace 
and war, alliances and international rivalries ; she 
would approach the subject with the utmost daring, 
though she was but a novice ; and these prelim- 
inary conversations were so many skirmishes that 
enabled her to get her hand in. The relations 
between the Emperors Napoleon and Francis 
Joseph were becoming more and more strained. 
The acute crisis, stalled off for a while, threatened 
to break out on the smallest provocation. Time 
and again at her dinners, her receptions, 
Eugénie had assailed Count Hubner with 
pressing questions, sudden apostrophies almost 
as keen and biting as if they were attacks. In 
the same wise, at a later period, she took the 
Chevalier Nigra to task with the utmost fervour 
upon the question of Italy and in the interests 
of the Pope. 

At the Monday " At Homes " of the Empress, 
those who were not admitted to her intimacy, and 
those who neither danced nor carried on intrigues, 
but were satisfied to observe the passing whirl- 
wind, found plenty of occupation in studying the 
galaxy of feminine beauty that congregated there. 
They admired the variety of the dresses, which, 



no THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

notwithstanding the vagaries ot the prevailing 
fashions, were exquisite in taste. At full leisure 
they could appreciate numberless décolletages so 
generously displayed. The evening invariably 
wound up with a cotillon, after which supper was 
served in the Louis XIV drawing-room. 

On ordinary days the Emperor and Empress 
often countenanced dancing after dinner. No 
ceremonial was observed on such occasions. As 
a result, a peculiar but pleasing condition of things 
was obtained. The wives and daughters of high 
officials were alone bidden to these hops, while 
their partners, generals, academicians, secretaries 
of State and judges, were, to say the least, some- 
what ripe. Most of them had neither the taste 
for dancing nor legs upon which to dance, but of 
course they did their best. Eugénie took the 
keenest delight in these impromptu affairs, and 
loved to watch the grey-haired beaux, who grew 
heated and breathless in the accomplishment of 
their task. In order to simplify matters, it was 
agreed that the simple and classical square dances 
should be adhered to. It would have been down- 
right cruelty to include in the programme polkas, 
mazurkas, redowas or fast waltzes. But in due 
time these entertainments became very monoto- 
nous, and as the Empress ceased to derive the 
slightest pleasure from them, she insisted upon 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS m 

introducing the young element to these small 
gatherings. 

During the hours that intervened between 
State receptions, balls, concerts, appearances in 
public and private audiences, Eugénie was wont 
to retire to her apartments and remain there 
in comparative solitude — in her study, reading, 
writing or drawing, and taking cognizance ot 
the chief events or the telling works of the 
day ; often she would go out in the early morn- 
ing to pay a round of charitable visits in the 
poorest slums of Paris. When bent on these 
mysterious errands of charity she drove in a 
dark-coloured landau. In the afternoon she 
was often seen in the Bois du Boulogne in 
brilliant equipages. She developed the taste for 
collecting autographs, letters, State papers, which 
she knew would acquire historical value in the 
course of years. From the beginning of her 
married life she evinced a passionate interest in 
the family of Bonaparte, and her collection of 
documents relating to it occupied a long line of 
volumes which she treasured. 

The Empress and Spiritualism ; Table-turning. 

On other occasions she was wont to yield to her 
inquisitive mind and to her imagination to an 
extent not always reasonable. She was mystical 



ii2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

by nature, not to say superstitious. Spiritualism 
and its attendant ceremonies and performances 
leaped into favour, thanks to her encouragement. 
She practically started and consecrated these 
practices by the extraordinary favours she 
dispensed to the famous medium, Hume, a 
Scotchman, naturalized American, who suddenly 
came and conquered Paris. He was a nine days' 
wonder at Court and in society, who disappeared 
as swiftly as he came. 

The Empress, Madame Kalerdgi and the high- 
born dames of haughty Poland went into ecstasies 
about this canny trickster, and sang his praises 
far and wide. With utmost sincerity and tremb- 
ling voice Eugénie related as she left one of 
his séances, that she had felt the touch, cold and 
warm alternately, of a hand which seized hers under 
the table, and she even asserted that she had seen 
this phantom hand. The Emperor was also much 
impressed by what she had seen and related. She 
became impassioned, frenzied, about this sort of 
evocation. As soon as she thought herself 
surrounded by sympathetic and communicative 
souls, she proceeded forthwith to try some new 
test upon the sensitiveness of a centre-table. It 
often occurred that those present became some- 
what heedless, notwithstanding her strict recom- 
mendation to all present that the matter should 
be treated most seriously. In such cases she 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 113 

would immediately adjourn the sitting till a more 
opportune time, displaying great annoyance at 
the careless behaviour of the said sympathetic 
souls. 

Officious courtiers lent themselves sedulously 
and skilfully to the enactment of the comedy, so 
currying the favour of their Imperial mistress. 
One evening, at one of her intimate gatherings, 
the conversation fell upon magnetism. Bacciochi, 
the Chamberlain, was the subject-designate for the 
experiment. He allowed himself to be hypnotized 
by Dr. Hume. If he did not really fall asleep he 
played the part to perfection, perspiring, laughing 
and crying alternately. 

" Are you in pain ? " said the operator. 

" Oh yes, in great pain," replied the patient. 

" Where do you suffer ? " 

" In my heart." 

" Don't you sleep well here ? " 

"No." 

" Where would you like to be asleep ? " And 
before the answer came the Empress intervened. 

" Don't ask him that question, Doctor ; he 
sometimes says such silly things." 

Table-turning and table-talking were the order 
of the day in every drawing-room. The spiritual- 
istic epidemic was short-lived, for the pastimes 
and distractions indulged in at the Tuileries were 
ever ephemeral. 



ii 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

The winter and the spring of 1853 flew past in 
the giddy atmosphere of festivities and pleasure. 
The reception-rooms of the old palace of the 
Kings had donned their freshest clothing in 
honour of the young spouse. The long series of 
entertainments organized in honour of the happy 
circumstances was replete with brilliancy and 
profuse lavishness. It seemed as though these 
charming functions had come to the end of their 
tether. Towards the autumn, however, the 
Imperial receptions were resumed, notwithstanding 
a series of calamities, epidemics and inundations 
which plunged the country into desolation. From 
the fall of the first leaf in 1853 right through the 
year of 1854 the doings at Court simulated, in 
the words of Pierre de la Gorce, one perpetual 
carnival. 

They were no doubt justifiable, for as official and 
elegant displays they undoubtedly made for the 
good of trade in general, and benefited industry 
by giving work to many. So much did they 
effect even when they did not take place in behalf 
of some charitable institution. 

The war and its tragic shadows soon cast a 
gloom upon these doings. While the Embassies 
of Paris, London, Vienna and St. Petersburg 
exchanged hurried dispatches, and as the storm 
that husbanded the thunderbolt was gathering 
upon the horizon, a great ball was given at the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 115 

Tuileries. The Empress was in the best of 
moods, chatting, laughing and playing with her 
fan as a Spanish lady only can play. She had 
danced the first quadrille with the Austrian Am- 
bassador, and afterwards had kept him chatting 
with her. This important individual was able to 
learn from her own mouth the reasons which 
made her give up the idea or intention of wearing 
a certain toilette, because, forsooth, Queen Marie 
Antoinette had worn a similar one on a similar 
occasion. 

The declaration of war was imminent. In a 
letter of the 29th January, Nicholas had not 
minced his words, declaring that it did not suit 
him to give any consideration to the terms and 
conditions proposed by Napoleon III. The ar- 
senals were working at fever heat ; the fleet was 
arming actively. But should the ball be counter- 
manded — the fancy-dress ball that was announced 
to take place at Court on the 18th February ? It 
took place, and, as usual, was a brilliant affair. 
The Empress once more bade the Ambassador of 
Austria- Hungary sit by her side upon the dais, 
where he had to listen to the petty details of an 
insignificant and endless conversation. She was 
dressed as a Grecian lady, her fair hair and neck 
and breast laden with pearls, diamonds and other 
stones. Her features betrayed a certain sadness, 
though it was difficult to say whether this sadness 



n6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

was superficial or whether it was born of the 
thought of human blood about to be spilt, of the 
flows of tears that would soon be caused by an 
awful cataclysm. Be it as it may, Count Hubner 
did not fail to notice that when the cotillon was 
danced and supper served Her Majesty partook 
of the meal with generous appetite. In truth this 
sudden rise to arms of France against Russia, with 
the aid of England and Turkey, had taken her 
by surprise, as it had done public opinion. In the 
whirlwind of pleasure traversed by her she had 
been unable to espy the threatening forebodings 
of this campaign, the inception of which had no 
serious ground, and the result of which was merely 
to be the aggrandizement of England. Though 
she already endeavoured between two quadrilles 
to penetrate the oracles of diplomacy in conversa- 
tion with the representatives of foreign Powers, she 
still displayed much discretion in conversing upon 
diplomatic subjects. As yet she did not aspire 
to being listened to, as she soon would, in the 
councils of a State. As yet she was only the first 
lady of her Court, and did not seem to harbour 
any other ambition. The secret combinations of 
the European chess-board did not interest her, at 
least apparently. She became apprised of them, 
spoke of them, and perhaps judged them, for 
she would have been deeply hurt if her intelli- 
gence and her political capabilities had not been 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 117 

recognized to the extent of her being made aware 
of what was going on. She did not, however, 
consider herself called upon as yet to take a direct 
or active part in the deliberations of higher poli- 
tics. During this phase of her worldly domination, 
when she reigned supreme over fashion and 
etiquette, questions of international moment were 
of less importance in her mind than those con- 
cerning the organization and the invitation list 
of a great State ball at the Tuileries. 

She glided with full sail upon the waters of 
pleasure. Now and again she got out of her 
course. At fancy-dress balls and tableaux vivants 
great liberties were sometimes indulged in, but 
they were held in check, as a rule, by the rules of 
ceremonial, from the observation of which no one 
was exempt. The rules of etiquette were all the 
stricter because they had been so recently drafted. 
Over such matters the Empress watched more 
jealously even than did her Imperial spouse. 
Napoleon, with his air of apparent indifference, 
would possibly have closed his eyes to certain 
infractions of the formulae, or might not even have 
noticed them. Eugénie did not tolerate any omis- 
sion upon a subject in a matter that she took much 
to heart, for the threefold reason that she was 
a woman, a Spanish woman, and a princess of 
fortune. 

There is no lack of examples proving the 



nS THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

excessive importance lent by her to all matters of 
ceremonial. The following telling anecdote, re- 
lated by Ludovic Halévy, gives us the keynote, 
and enables us to draw a fair picture of the situa- 
tion. A gala performance, given in the theatre of 
the Château of Versailles in honour of the King 
of Spain, was attended by the élite % and presented 
a dazzling picture, made up of gorgeous uniforms 
that intermingled with exquisite toilettes, the latest 
creations of taste and lavishness. Food for the 
eyes, food also for the mind ! The choruses of 
the Conservatoire and the corps de ballet of the 
Opéra had been requisitioned, in order to lend full 
brilliancy to the setting of the Psyché of Corneille 
and Molière, interpreted by the artists of the 
Comédie Française. Invitations on this occasion 
had been eagerly sought for. As the curtain rose, 
the spectators gazed in rapture upon the stage, 
where the loveliest actresses of the Comédie were 
foregathered, enacting the principal parts. Their 
eyes wandered to the Imperial box, which faced 
the stage, and in which were seated the Emperor 
and Empress with their Royal guests. The features 
of the Empress bore witness to her triumph, and 
her evident joy was ascribed to the fact that she 
was acting as an Imperial hostess to him who had 
been her Sovereign when she was still Mademoi- 
selle de Montijo. Ludovic Halévy, who occupied 
a stage box with Auber and Emile Perrin, the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 119 

director of the Opéra, did not fail to record his 
impressions on the occasion, for he could study at 
leisure the features of the hosts and their guests, 
who occupied three arm-chairs that were almost 
thrones. During the performance the Empress sud- 
denly indulged in a movement of great impatience, 
irritated, no doubt, by some omission of etiquette 
that seemed to have shocked her. She insisted 
upon the immediate presence of the Chamberlain. 
He came to her presence with low and rever- 
ential bow, clad in brilliant red uniform, with 
gold pommel by his side, and the azure broad 
ribbon of the Spanish order upon his breast. All 
present wondered what could be the little detail 
that had disturbed the centre of gravity of the 
sacrosanct Imperial etiquette. What had been 
the crime committed by the unfortunate Cham- 
berlain ? He blushed, he stammered, he trembled, 
but, humble as was his demeanour, it begot no 
mercy, nor could he stay the flow of bitter words 
that fell upon his head like a heavy shower — 
words spoken by the infuriated Eugénie. At 
last the Emperor intervened softly, so as to stay 
the Imperial anger and to calm the agitation of 
the Empress. The King of Spain, an unwilling 
witness to this family scene, indulged in awkward 
gestures, apparently endeavouring to assure Her 
Majesty that he, for one, attached no importance 
to a slight breach of etiquette. The incident 



i2o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

however, riveted the attention of the house to 
such an extent that Corneille and Molière were 
utterly forgotten, that the performance of Psyché 
became a negligible quantity in the minds of all 
those present until the features of the offended 
Sovereign showed that her ruffled feelings were 
soothed at last and that the incident was closed. 
Then, and only then, were the interpreters of 
the masterpiece afforded a hearing. 

At the Tuileries there was ever a strange ad- 
mixture of starchy stiffness and Bohemian heedless- 
ness during the reign of the improvised Sovereigns 
of the Second Empire. The courtiers, as well as 
their Royal masters, betokened the existence of 
this anomaly. They seemed overtaken with sur- 
prise by the newness — sudden, almost miraculous 
— of this sovereignty. The fear of forgetting 
themselves, of neglecting the slightest detail of 
their duties, apparently overwhelmed them, lead- 
ing them to exaggerate their attitude by imparting 
to it formalities, excessive as they were, often 
grafted upon a laissez-faire in strange contrast 
with the exaggerated and affected formalities of 
this new-born Court. Speaking of the Empress 
and her relations with her surroundings, Pierre 
de la Gorce says, "Owing to her lack of ascen- 
dency over her surroundings, the Empress afforded 
two examples equally nefarious — that of a conde- 
scension which at times justified the ignoring of all 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 121 

rules, and that of a severity which inopportunely 
called those rules to mind." At times she would 
share the levity of those around her with graceful 
simplicity, and apparently enter fully into the fun, 
while endeavouring to preserve a certain gravity 
in her demeanour. Then just as suddenly, as it 
moved by a sudden return to thoughts of greatness, 
and by the fear that this abandon might militate 
against etiquette, she would tighten the reins 
of discipline, obtaining a sudden purchase upon 
herself and those with whom but a minute pre- 
viously she had been on terms of the greatest 
familiarity. 

Despotic caprices, whims, seemed betimes to 
possess themselves of her, and while she was all- 
powerful such whims found grace before the wor- 
shipping crowd of her adorers, who might have 
judged them more severely had they themselves 
been less servile. Often her actions, caused by 
impulses that were anything but noble, were 
interpreted as due to youthful proclivities, or to 
the fantasies of her sex. 

One day as she walked through her apartments, 
accompanied by Colonel Verly, she stopped to 
gaze out upon the Guardsman who was mount- 
ing sentry under her windows, motionless as a 
statue, for thus were the sentries trained to 
stand. After gazing at him a while she burst out 
laughing, and turning to the Colonel of the 



i22 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

regiment, she said, " You must admit, my dear 
Verly, that this imperturbable rigidity of your 
men is only a make-believe, and that it would 
require very little to make them move." 

"Will your Majesty test the fact ? " replied the 
commanding officer. 

" Supposing I insulted him ? " she said. 

"Your Majesty is mistress of your own actions, 
but I will answer for my man." 

There and then she proceeded to test the soldier, 
and frowning upon him with a hard expression in 
her eyes, she proceeded to inveigh against him 
upon some question of discipline. 

The sentry may have been taken unawares by 
the suddenness of this avalanche, but at any rate he 
displayed no signs of emotion. Erect, motionless, 
like a marble statue, he stood presenting arms. 
The undeserved words of reproach seemed to 
glide off his tunic. Seeing that she had failed to 
move him by word of mouth, she smote him on 
the cheek and proceeded on her way. 

On the morrow she inquired his name, and 
sent him a gift of ,£20 in atonement for the insult 
she had inflicted upon him ; but for once she had 
met a model soldier. He caused the money to 
be returned to the Empress, with a note from 
him to the effect that he was only too happy to 
have harboured upon his face the hand of his 
beloved Sovereign ! 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 123 

The heart of a courtier evidently beat under 
the tunic of a Guardsman. With less adulation 
and more dignity he might have refused the gift, 
invoking better reasons for doing so. He pre- 
ferred to thank his Empress, and preserve the 
imprint of the Imperial slap as a souvenir full of 
sweetness during the remainder of his life. 

Though she was wont at times to raise her 
voice in the course of a passing quarrel, or to 
burst out into loud laughter, she always appeared 
full of dignity and self-composure in the presence 
of her Court. It is easy to realize the barriers 
set up by her against possible familiarities on the 
part of her surroundings, if one considers the extra- 
ordinary amount of rigid etiquette that obtained at 
her Monday " At Homes." As soon as the family 
dinner was over, at about ten o'clock, she would 
enter the drawing-room, and take her seat in an 
arm-chair a that was a sort of bugbear to her 
suite. No one dared come within a certain 
distance of it without being instructed to do so 

1 From this point of observation she was wont to study the 
physiognomy and the doings of those present. On such oc- 
casions, as Princess Mathilde felt compelled to attend the 
gatherings, she often caused a certain amount of displeasure by 
conversing familiarly with those around her, laughing and 
joking without apparently stopping to consider whether in so 
doing she was acting with all the dignity expected of a Royal 
Highness. So two or three times in the course of the evening 
the Empress would bid her to her side, and thus put a break 
upon the natural expansiveness of her nature. 



124 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

by the Lord Chamberlain. As a result, the minds 
of those who stood within the sacred circle around 
the Imperial chair seemed paralyzed and frozen, 
while the rest of the company enjoyed the gaiety 
to its full content. 

Fortunately this was not always the case. Just 
as the Emperor knew how to be charming when 
he chose to discard his natural moodiness, so 
she could also be charming to those she liked. 
With them she would multiply the subjects of 
conversation, and appear interested by it, nay, 
wrapped up in it at times. Should Mérimée 
contribute a gay or heated note, she did not 
resent it, but soon became her natural self. Join- 
ing in the chat, she would recall the recollections 
of her native country, her education, her journeys 
across the Estramadura, or take an active part 
in the discussion. Once more she was Eugénie 
de Montijo, and her natural vivacity would re- 
assert itself with all the turbulence of her 
Southern imagination. These returns to her old 
self generally occurred in the company of friends 
who had known her before she ascended the 
throne, when she was in Society — to use her own 
expression — or in that of diplomatists whose 
presence at the Tuileries was keenly appreciated. 
Did they not represent the aristocratic element at 
this Court, which was more or less boycotted by 
members of the old nobility, who through their 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 125 

love of old institutions were fain to sulk with the 
new régime conditions ? She was well aware of 
this, and had good reason to appreciate it. 

In truth, the élite of the Faubourg Saint-Germain 
remained outside the official world, with the ex- 
ception of a few of its members whose adhesion 
to Imperialism was deemed precious. Though 
the advent of a Montmorency was near at hand, 
the la Rochefoucaulds would have been surprised 
indeed to meet the la Tremoilles at the Tuileries. 
The fact that the Duchess de Polignac would 
have willingly given up her beautiful mansion 
on the Place Louis XV in order to go to Court 
was not referred to. In vain one would have 
looked for the Duchess de la Ferté, or Countess 
Pozzo di Borgo, or Madame de Beaufort, née de 
Chateaubriand, or Countesses de Blacas and de 
Navailles, in the entourage of the Empress. 

The Royalists of the old stock lived upon the 
inheritance of the past, and hoped that the future 
might bring them compensations that were not 
destined to see the light of day. They could not 
succeed in playing false to their principles by 
accepting any compromise with the new dynasty. 
Notwithstanding the almost religious veneration 
in which the Empress Eugénie held the memory 
of Queen Marie Antoinette, notwithstanding the 
fact that her Imperial husband reproached her 
publicly with being more Royalist than Bonapartist, 



126 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

and despite the promise that a most seductive 
welcome awaited their coming, the representatives 
of the old legitimist party held aloof. At one 
of the great receptions at Fontainebleau there was 
only one representative of the old regime, Prince de 
Bauffremont, but the diplomatic world, composed 
of the spoilt and petted children of Courts and 
aristocracies, was present to a man, and so the 
international link joining folk of good social 
standing was duly strengthened. 

It is needless to say that the democratic element 
found no room at these great festivals. Though 
it was not completely eliminated, it had been 
treated with much severity, and the parvenus and 
politicians invited had been much chastened in 
their manners and ideas. The feminine element 
at Court contained certain alloys that somewhat 
jarred upon the whole, for among the ladies 
invited at Court there were not a few of the 
handsomest and wittiest who belonged to the 
foreign colony that had its privileged entrées 
through the Princess Mathilde. In the ranks of 
this colony one could point to more than one 
princess of doubtful origin. Some of these great 
beauties hailed from the North, with weird tastes, 
ways and manners that dealt a heavy blow to 
decorum. The principles that ruled their conduct 
and their education were open to severe comment, 
and many of them, be they foreigners or French, 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 127 

would have felt very uncomfortable if an indiscreet 
light had been suddenly thrown upon the origin 
of their titles and their fortunes. Their external 
appearance betrayed a lack of propriety which 
did not escape analytical minds. Lord Malmes- 
bury, British Ambassador, referred to this with 
little favour when he wrote of them on the 1st 
October, 1862 l : " With the exception of Madame 
Walewska, all the ladies who surround the 
Empress are decidedly vulgar. They wear their 
hair dressed in Chinese fashion, and drawn so 
tightly that they can hardly close their eyes. Their 
scarlet jackets and mantles are in the worst of 
taste, inasmuch as most of them are fair women." 
Often the cosmopolitan laisser-aller of the 
Court, which the Protocole was unable to keep in 
hand, put the Empress to serious inconvenience. 
She endeavoured more and more to expurgate the 
invitation list ; but she had to contend with too 
many recommendations and hidden influences, 
which, added to the example of the Emperor and 
his facile liaisons, made it difficult for her to adhere 
to her own wishes. 

1 On the same day he entered the following note in his diary : 
" I have returned to Paris in the Imperial carriage with Mr. 
and Madame de Morny, Mr. Walewska and his wife, and two 
ladies in waiting, the one Madame de Pierre, née Thorne, an 
American, and the other, Madame de Morny, a Russian, 
smoked incessantly in the face of the Empress. She is really 
too indulgent towards her entourage." 



128 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

She had best bear what she could not avoid. 
She made up her mind to widen more or less 
the meshes of the net into which many curious 
personalities were wont to slip under the flatter- 
ing unction of a title of external beauty and 
elegance. It proved impossible to change the 
existing order of things. The elements of youth 
that surrounded the Empress carried her away. 
When all is considered, it is only fair to say that 
at this period of her life it was neither of her age 
nor her nature to view worldly pleasures with a 
strong hatred. Easily did she become a votary 
of them, for during these happy days everything 
seemed to fashion itself to her sweet will ; she had 
not yet been scratched and scarred by the sharp 
thorns of politics, nor had religion become the 
importunate counsellor which later on she tried 
to introduce into the field of human reality. The 
crowd adored her, singing her praises and enumer- 
ating her deeds of generosity. They related with 
enthusiasm the handsome sacrifice she had made 
on the morrow of her wedding when she handed 
over to the poor of the capital the price of the 
magnificent necklace bestowed upon her by the 
town of Paris. A meritorious but very intelligent 
sacrifice, for she received at the hands of the 
Emperor a jewel of the same value, ,£40,000 to 
wit. The official Press and the public voice 
praised the active solicitude displayed by her in 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 129 

the creation of new philanthropic institutions. 
They praised the ^zeal of the august Sovereign 
in multiplying the number of aid societies, work- 
rooms, infant asylums, day nurseries, convalescent 
homes and asylums of all sorts. She personally 
administered and inspected these charitable 
organizations, urging one and all around her to 
take an active part in her work. This was the 
ransom she paid to the populace, whom she 
dazzled year in and year out with the lavish 
luxury of her parties, festivals and receptions. 



CHAPTER V 

Happy days— A few clouds in a bright sky — Recollections of the 
Crimean War — 1 855-1 858— The Empress Eugénie and Queen 
Victoria — The former's visit to Windsor — The Queen at Saint- 
Cloud — Royal and princely receptions at the Tuileries — The 
close of 1856— Frederick-William and Baron von Moltke at 
the Marsan pavilion — An important event during the same 
year — Birth of Prince Louis-Napoleon — Official and popular 
rejoicings — The most prosperous year of Napoleon's reign — 
Abortive meeting between the Tsarina Marie and Eugénie — 
The night of January 14, 1858 — The Orsini bombs and their 
effect upon home and foreign events — The political world 
extols the conduct of Eugénie during the tragic occurrence — 
Prospects of a regency — The real actual regency — The position 
of the Empress during her husband's absence — The war in 
Italy — How the Empress was able to lessen its ill-effects and 
shortened its duration— The unknown testimony — The Empress 
Elizabeth, the Abbé Bauer, and the Empress of the French- 
After the treaty of Villafranca— Some hours of peace and 
happiness — Napoleon, Eugénie and the Prince Imperial are 
together once again at the Château of Saint- Cloud. 

The Empress now enjoyed a matchless spell of 
life. The dazzling sphere in which her star shone 
so brilliantly afforded nought but opportunities 
and pretexts for exuberant and magnificent 
rejoicings. Among those who witnessed the 
spectacle, but took no part in it, there were not 
a few slanderers who rancorously criticized this 
thoughtless, light-hearted way of governing a 
Court. She was well aware of such criticisms, 
but criticism did not sting her then as it did in 
130 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 131 

later years. She would shrug her shoulders, and 
say in answer to the tattler — 

" Really, do they find fault with the gay doings 
at the Tuileries ? The least I may do is to pro- 
vide some distraction for the poor Emperor, and 
show him some pretty women, when he has been 
worried all day with political cares." 

Ample relaxation for the weary monarch was 
provided by a galaxy of beautiful and witty 
women, fired by the enthusiasm born of youthful 
confidence. Some of the joyful hours were 
clouded, notwithstanding, by sadness and anxiety. 
The new Imperial dictatorship, whose advent was 
heralded by assurances of peace for France, soon 
created a sense of stupefaction by awaking the 
gods of war and heedlessly precipitating the 
Crimean drama. However, final success had shed 
a glimmer of heroism and poetry upon such gloomy 
pictures of the campaign as were afforded by the 
battle-fields, strewn with dead and dying, and 
ambulances thronged with sick and wounded. In a 
word, the war crowned by victory was described by 
an eminent historian as a magnificent preface to 
the reign of Napoleon the Third. The sufferings 
of the people had also faded away in the dazzling 
brightness of happy days. The cholera epidemic 
which played great havoc from 1853 to 1855 na cl 
come to an end. The terrible floods that laid 
waste the valleys of the Rhone and of the Loire 



i 3 2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

were to urge the popularity of the Master, by 
enabling him to prove his eagerness to meet 
and alleviate pressing wants, and to promote 
without delay such protective operations as would 
effectively prevent the recurrence of similar 
disasters. 

The high price of food-stuffs was another trump 
in his hand, because it was practically counter- 
balanced by the progressive increase in wages. 
As a result of all this, every opinion expressed 
and every judgment passed upon the Empire and 
the existing order of things were couched in 
words of praise or of mitigation. Successful 
business undertakings and lucky speculations were 
the order of the day. The ancient city of Paris 
was rejuvenated and embellished by the magic 
wand of Baron Haussmann, its Prefect. 

The satisfaction caused by all these circum- 
stances was displayed at Court with more effusion 
than anywhere, and found expression in the great 
number and the magnificence of Imperial functions 
and social entertainments. 

Eugénie lent a willing ear to the arguments 
adduced in vindication of all these frivolous 
excesses. While preserving an outward demea- 
nour of pity and dignity, she meant to neglect 
none of the pleasant features of her task. 

At balls and receptions, the charming vivacity 
of her beautiful eyes, her exquisite shoulders 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 133 

emerging from their lace and muslin flounces as 
from a cloud, and the suppleness of her movements, 
gained a chorus of approval. 

During the sunny hours of the afternoon, the 
Parisian crowds would sally forth to meet her 
postillion-chaise, preceded by outriders, flanked by 
equerries, and followed by an escort, as she drove 
through the wide avenues that lead to the Bois 
de Boulogne. In December and January, when 
the lake presented an evenly frozen surface, skat- 
ing afforded a delightful pastime, to which the 
Empress always gave the first impetus. 

Wearing a small toque and a woollen veil, and 
a sealskin garment fitting close to the waist, she 
would glide over the ice with the swiftness of an 
arrow, outlining the graceful curves and undula- 
tions of a bird in mid-air. She was the cynosure 
of every eye. In spring-time she would flit from 
one Royal residence to another, or travel abroad, 
but, wherever she went, public interest and curiosity 
followed her every movement. 

Towards the beginning of 1855, Napoleon 
decided to effect a purpose which he had har- 
boured for some time, to wit, a journey to England 
with the object of inviting the late Queen Victoria 
to graciously consent to visit the Universal 
Exhibition that was being organized in Paris. 
He wished the Empress to accompany him, as he 
was desirous that she should share the pleasure he 



i 3 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

hoped to derive from this official undertaking. 
Napoleon and Eugénie sailed from France at the 
beginning of April, and landed amid scenes of 
brilliant splendour. Prince Albert met the Sove- 
reigns, and accompanied them to Windsor, where 
the Queen, surrounded by her children, greeted 
them most heartily, in a manner as stately as 
it was friendly. Then came a succession of 
days never to be forgotten. The entrance into 
London, witnessed by a huge concourse of people, 
evoked a storm of enthusiasm. The weather was 
ideal, the thoroughfares thronged and lined by 
thousands who watched the progress of the pro- 
cession, consisting of six open carriages, with an 
escort of Life Guards, and a number of scarlet- 
coated outriders. As the carriages proceeded at a 
walking pace up St. James's Street, the Emperor 
leaned towards the Empress and showed her the 
house he had lived in formerly. The crowd seized 
the meaning of his gesture and cheered him. 
The Lord Mayor, on behalf of the City, invited 
the Royal guests to a great banquet at the Guild- 
hall, and Count Walewski gave orders for a brilliant 
reception at the French Embassy. 

Soon after their return, Queen Victoria an- 
nounced her intention of visiting Paris, and 
within a short time her presence as guest of the 
chief of the State in the Palace of Saint-Cloud 
set a seal upon the Anglo-French Alliance, created 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 135 

new ties of friendship between her and the 
Empress, and compelled the Council of Sovereigns 
to admit Napoleon the Third within their ranks. 

On the 15th May the Exhibition was offici- 
ally opened with great pomp. These peaceful 
festivities, inaugurated and continued in time of 
war, were the inception of an era of splendour 
that was to make Paris the trysting-place of the 
civilized world. A source of supreme satisfaction 
indeed to her who, three years previously, was 
but the Countess of Teba! Prince Jérôme 
Napoleon, the appointed President of these Assize 
Courts of Commerce and Industry, met the 
Emperor and his Consort at the entrance of the 
main hall, and conducted them to a throne upon 
a raised platform, the back of which was draped 
with a huge red velvet cloth embroidered in gold. 
All eyes were riveted upon Eugénie, radiant 
with joy. 

In those days the journeys of Crowned Heads 
and Princes of the Royal Blood were effected with 
much more ostentation and pageantry than is 
customary now. Etiquette made greater efforts 
to safeguard the prestige of monarchy in its 
smallest details. Nations still attached sensa- 
tional importance to the peregrinations of those 
who wore a crown. At the Tuileries, extra- 
ordinary eagerness was displayed in multiplying 
the number of official ceremonies and functions 



i 3 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

for the worthy celebration of the Queen of 
England's visit in 1855, and of those of King 
Victor Emmanuel and the Duke of Brabant. 
The Empress devoted herself unsparingly to the 
duties inherent to lavish hospitality. 

The following year witnessed a great many 
comings and goings at the Tuileries, where Royal 
guests arrived in quick succession. They were 
compelled to return to the French capital by a 
sense of feverish curiosity, due, no doubt, to the 
rapid improvements which changed its aspect 
with incredible rapidity. 

Towards the end of 1856, Baron von Moltke, 
the future Chief of the Staff of the German Army, 
was the guest at the Marsan Pavilion, and the 
result of his visit was none the less important for 
having passed almost unnoticed at the time. On 
his return from London, whither he had accom- 
panied Prince Frederick William on his presenta- 
tion visit to Princess Augusta, his affianced bride, 
the Baron spent a fortnight in Paris, taking stock 
of all he saw. The Emperor greeted Prince 
Frederick William and the Prussian officer at the 
foot of the grand staircase of the Tuileries, and 
led them forthwith to the blue drawing-room of 
the Empress. The heir-apparent and Baron von 
Moltke, who had had no time to change their 
clothes during the journey, had taken the pre- 
caution to wear full uniform and the insignia of 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 137 

their orders. Napoleon wore the uniform of a 
field-marshal of France, and the broad ribbon of 
the Black Eagle of Prussia. The Empress's 
dress was dark green and black, with a high 
bodice, and very simple, but in the best of taste. In 
the evening her guests beheld her in a much more 
elaborate costume, a white satin gown, showing 
bare neck and arms, which von Moltke thought 
incomparable. She had a coiffure of deep red, 
and around her neck a double row of priceless 
pearls. She lavished nice sayings upon her 
guests, so much so that her spontaneous amiability 
seemed somewhat excessive. The exuberance of 
her manners was the result of her early education 
at Carabanchel. 

11 Her delivery is fast and fluent," said von 
Moltke, " and her bearing is hardly that which one 
expects to find in such high station." 

His judgment of Napoleon was not very flatter- 
ing, for notwithstanding his grave appearance, 
he seemed to discern a certain amount of 
awkwardness. 

" In his own drawing-room," he wrote, "he 
does not display an imposing attitude, and in 
conversation he exhibits a certain amount of 
constraint in his demeanour. He is an Emperor, 
but not a King." 

Frederick William occupied the Castle, while a 
suite of rooms in the Marsan Pavilion, formerly 



i 3 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

occupied by the Orleans Princes, was placed at 
the disposal of Baron von Moltke. They seldom 
remained in their apartments, but spent their time 
sight-seeing, observing and studying the town. 
The future field-marshal admired and criticized 
in turn. A thorough soldier, he noticed, and 
observed in a letter to his wife, that the barracks, 
though elegant in appearance, were bereft of clean- 
liness or sanitation, and that in the march past 
at the review the troops broke step and carried 
their rifles in a slovenly fashion. 1 This was at the 
end of 1856. Von Moltke returned to France on 
two occasions, first in 1867, and, alas, again in 
1870! 

The year ended with the conclusion of peace, 
the submissive peace to which the Russian Govern- 
ment had to bow. The year 1856 had witnessed 
another great event, which raised the prosperity 
of the Napoleonic family to its zenith. We refer 
to the birth of the Prince Imperial. 

In April 1853 f° n d hopes had already been 
nurtured in the intimate entourage of the 
Tuileries. Veiled indiscretions had inspired 
definite prognoses. The Empress had been 
seized with sudden illness. She had committed 
the imprudence of taking a warm bath, which 

1 "They seemed to attach no importance to this detail, 
which in our Army would have earned extra drills for all 
concerned " (Von Moltke, Letters to Baroness von Mo/tke). 




p 8 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 139 

caused acute pain, and induced the result that fre- 
quently occurs in similar cases. She was confined 
to bed for several weeks. As a result of all this, 
the drawing-room talk of Paris was monopolized 
by women who hoped to become mothers and by 
those who had just done so. This novel subject 
of gossip brought back to one's memory the letters 
of Madame de Maintenon to the Princesse des 
Ursins, in which is frequently mentioned with cir- 
cumstantial details the interesting condition of the 
ladies at the Court of Louis the Fourteenth. When 
discussing such matters, Parisian society evinced 
little sympathy towards the Empress and the 
Napoleonic dynasty, for the régime of the Coup 
d'État was as yet but grudgingly accepted, and 
the proud aristocracy of France could not forgive 
Eugénie de Montijo for having ascended the 
throne without being at least a Princess of the 
blood. 

In the month of May she had to take carriage 
exercise. She seemed fatigued and suffering at 
the great Court reception of the 1st January, 
1854. Eventually she recovered. There followed 
similar inklings and false alarms, due to real or 
imaginary pallors, but the Empress was in despair 
at her hopes not being fulfilled. The Palais 
Royal rejoiced at the delay. On the 16th May, 
1856, the secret joy of Jérôme Napoleon was cut 
short and his hopes of becoming heir-presumptive 



i 4 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

clashed to the ground by a report that was re- 
echoed far and wide and confirmed by the salvo 
of a hundred and one guns. Louis Eugène 
Napoleon had been born in the midst of the 
Tuileries festivities. 1 

Endless illusions filled the heart and the imagin- 
ation of those most interested in prolonging the 
happy dream. From the windows of the Palace 
one could hear the joyful celebrations of the city. 
It seemed as if each of its residents had become 
the recipient of worldly wealth through this happy 
birth. Court poets^ such as Théophile Gautier 
and Barthélémy, had attuned their lyres to sing 
in the language of the gods the coming of the 
providential child. Three days after the confine- 
ment of the Empress, the various State deputa- 
tions were solemnly led past the cradle where he 
indulged in his first slumbers. 

Three months elapsed. It was common know- 
ledge that Pope Pius the Ninth had consented to 
become godfather to the Imperial babe, though the 

1 " 19th March, 1856. I learn from a letter from de 
Persigny that the Empress has been safely delivered of a son. 
The Emperor did not leave his wife's room for a minute, and 
was in a state of nervousness that baffled all description. He 
cried incessantly for fifteen hours. When the child was born 
he kissed the first five people he found in the adjoining room. 
Then, remembering that his action was somewhat undignified, 
he exclaimed, 'I really cannot kiss you all'" {Memoirs of a 
Late Minister, by Lord Malmesbury, p. 230). 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 141 

Army and public opinion in general wanted the 
child to have a military godfather. 

Cardinal Patrizzi, the papal legate, and Princess 
Stéphanie of Baden were to act as sponsors for 
His Holiness and the Queen of Sweden. 

The 14th June was indeed a red-letter 
day. Endless lines of troops in brilliant uniforms 
glittering with gold, silver and steel, an endless 
procession of carriages conveying to the metro- 
politan church the members of the Government, 
Ambassadors and distinguished guests, followed 
by the Imperial equipages and the cee-spring 
coach. In it was seated the nurse, a native of 
Burgundy, dressed in her best, who carried in her 
arms the infant Prince, the object of all these 
demonstrations, the source of all this hope. The 
military bands played the National Anthem the 
while the huge crowd pressed into the depths of 
the basilica. Surrounded by his clergy, the Arch- 
bishop of Paris received the Emperor and Empress 
at the principal entrance. The organ pealed forth 
a triumphant march. Notre-Dame displayed to 
the fullest its religious pomp. The Imperial Proto- 
cole had surpassed itself in the imposing grandeur 
of this baptismal solemnity ! 

On that day the upstart of the 2nd Decem- 
ber could honestly boast of having reached the 
zenith of human joy, or at least of such joy as he 
could aspire to, not being in possession of gifts 



142 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

that are only the appanage of youth. Heaven, 
Fate or Providence, whichever name one chooses 
to give to this unknown power that forges the 
chain of circumstance, had showered upon him 
remarkable proofs of kindness. He reigned 
peacefully over one of the most flourishing em- 
pires of the world. A child in the cradle, and a 
companion beautified by the untold charms of 
maternity, smiled to him and loved him. Other 
women, pretty and attractive, would fain vary his 
impressions and solicit his attention, ready, aye 
willing, to bow to his caprice, to submit to his 
desires. If, on the one hand, he had good cause 
to rejoice in the national prosperity, he was also 
bound to admit that he had had a lion's share of 
personal and intimate joys. The fate of the 
spouse was as happy as that of her husband, 
though her freedom was somewhat curtailed in 
comparison to his. 

During the year 1857 weeks and months fol- 
lowed each other in the lap of abundance and 
security. Quick to seize upon the advantages of 
important concessions granted to the Church and 
to Christian society, Napoleon and his Consort 
had just visited Catholic Brittany with a success 
akin to triumph. What a pilgrimage it was to 
Brest, to Notre-Dame d'Auray, to Saint-Servan, 
to Saint-Malo ! They were met everywhere with 
religious enthusiasm by deputations headed by 




THE EMPEROR, THE EMPRESS AND THE PRINCE IMPERIAL. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 143 

priests and preceded by banners. In the even- 
ings they were spellbound and surprised by the 
unwonted sound of the Breton bagpipes and the 
hautboys, to the strains of which the peasants 
danced. The children of Armorica were filled 
with love and ecstasy for the fair Sovereign, so 
beautiful, so bewitching in her robes of pale-blue 
tulle, seamed with gold and silver thread, whose 
bows and smiles were lavished upon the respect- 
ful and gazing crowd. Eugénie must still 
remember the warm ovation afforded her by the 
Breton people in those days whose morrows 
were not to be so pure or replete with joy. 

1857 was perhaps the greatest year of Napo- 
leon's reign. He feared no attack from without, 
while at home public opinion sang so dumb that 
no criticism, no hostile feeling was expressed. 
In peace and in the company of his chosen com- 
panion, he enjoyed his happiness to the full, while 
complacently watching the growth of the heir- 
presumptive to the throne. 

The happy course of these enchanted days was 
varied by peaceful interviews. After the visit to 
Osborne, Queen Victoria's favourite residence in 
the Isle of Wight, where the ties of friendship 
between France and England were made tighter, 
Napoleon met the Emperor of Russia, his erst- 
while enemy. This interview took place at 
Stuttgart between the 25th and the 28th Sep- 



144 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

tember. It was noticed that the Empress 
of the French had not been bidden to share in 
the honours of conversation, and her absence, 
it was surmised, was the outcome of a secret 
understanding the object of which was to keep her 
aloof. Any doubt upon the subject was dispelled 
by the knitting together of significant circum- 
stances. The Empress of Russia, then at Darm- 
stadt, had announced her intention of not repairing 
to Stuttgart. No doubt she feared the ordeal of 
competing with elegance and wit in a meeting 
at which she might have suffered defeat. Ac- 
cording to Rothan, the practised diplomatist, 
who saw her at Stuttgart, the Empress Marie, 
whose origin was shrouded in mystery, 1 was in 
no way imperial in her bearing or her manners. 
She exhaled the atmosphere of a little German 
Court, that dullest of all provincial atmospheres. 
Much against her will, Eugénie had also to forego 
this journey. But at the last moment the Czarina 
changed her mind, and insisted upon being present 
at the interview of the two Emperors. A some- 
what legitimate feeling of resentment and pique 
sprang to the breast of Eugénie, and such a feel- 
ing did not tend to improve the existing relations 
between Paris and St. Petersburg. She had just 
been reminded in a telling, if indirect manner, of 

1 She was supposed to be the daughter of one Monsieur de 
Grancy. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 145 

the prejudices obtaining among the high society 
of Germany and Austria, which rendered admis- 
sion to its midst much more difficult for women 
than for men, and almost impossible to such 
women as were not born within its pale. But 
this impression of pique was not a lasting one. 
A few balls and parties sufficed to drive it away, 
and she sought and found consolation in assuming 
her share of the spontaneous and great success 
scored by her husband at Stuttgart, where the 
personality of Alexander was almost unheeded. 

The Empress continued to dream dreams of 
sweet long hope. The newspapers, as usual, 
lauded in every key her eagerness to relieve 
social misery and human suffering by the crea- 
tion of charitable institutions, in which creation 
her spirit of benevolence found full play. One 
opportunity alone was needed by a fulsome 
Press — that of proving that she was also pos- 
sessed of a soul as brave, as valiant as it was 
kind. A tragic event soon afforded the missing 
opportunity. It was the attempt upon the lives of 
the Imperial couple made by Orsini and his three 
companions, Gomez, Pétrie and Rudio. On Thurs- 
day, the 14th January, 1858, it was made known 
that their Majesties would attend the performance 
of the Opéra. Due preparations were made in 
expectation of their visit, and at half-past eight 
the Royal procession made its way across the Place 



1 4 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

de l'Opéra. The first carriage, containing the 
officers of the Imperial household, had already 
driven past the peristyle of the theatre. A detach- 
ment of Lancers of the Guard followed, preceding 
the Imperial carriage, in which sat the Emperor, 
the Empress and General Roguet. As it slowed 
up at the entrance reserved for the Sovereigns, 
loud explosions rent the air. Three bombs 
charged with bullets had exploded between the 
wheels, projecting at haphazard their deadly 
engines and strewing the ground with numerous 
victims, while by a miracle the one object of the 
attempt had been spared. Napoleon's hat was 
pierced through and through by a bullet, while the 
eye and cheek of the Empress were cut with 
broken glass. Her white dress was besmeared 
with the blood of one of the horses of the escort. 
She did not utter a cry. Her emotion was be- 
trayed only by her pallor. Eye-witnesses declared 
that as Napoleon and Eugénie walked from the 
carriage to the Imperial box, the Emperor seemed 
completely unnerved, while his Consort displayed 
intrepid calmness. During the performance, that 
no one witnessed or heeded, a host of distinguished 
people foregathered in haste. Eugénie showed 
them General Roguet's cloak, riddled with bullets, 
and, pointing to the Emperor, she jokingly said, 
"We have to thank His Majesty for this little 
treat." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 147 

The plots of the Hippodrome and the Opéra 
Comique had been forgotten since many years. 
Other attempts upon the life of Napoleon the 
Third had been averted without trouble, but the 
repercussion caused by the circumstances of this 
terrible night proved much greater and more 
enduring. Paris was grievously shaken, and 
public emotion rose to the highest pitch during 
the trial of the Italian revolutionaries, who were 
prosecuted by Chaix-d'Est-Ange and defended by 
Jules Favre. The thought of a crime whose deadly 
effects had overtaken so many innocent victims at 
first stirred the soul of the Empress to righteous 
indignation, but little by little she yielded to a 
feeling of pity towards the culprits, especially 
towards Orsini. The strange phases of his youth, 
the romantic side of a life full of trouble and tur- 
moil, his feats of daring courage, his escape from 
the citadel of Mantua, whence he was rescued by 
the help of a lovely woman, his wrong-doings 
even, caused by savage doctrines and wild theories, 
made a deep impression upon the imagination of 
Euo-énie. The sinister and violent losqc of Orsini, 

o o 

which led him to believe that he could best bring 
about a revolution in Italy by provoking one in 
France, the inception of which must be the murder 
of the Emperor, all awakened in her breast feelings 
of revolt, but also of keen interest. His was blind 
patriotism, no doubt, but it was patriotism, and 



148 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

she considered it both just and humane : she 
considered it her duty to beg and pray for his 
pardon. 

" Orsini was urged to murder," she would say, 
"by the exultation of a generous sentiment. He 
passionately loves liberty, and he hates oppres- 
sion with no less energy. I, too, remember the 
hatred we Spaniards bore towards the French 
after the wars of the First Empire. He didn't 
wish to kill the Emperor of France," she added, 
"he only wished to strike the friend of the 
Emperor of Austria." A few days before his 
execution, the Italian conspirator was the subject 
of conversation in her presence, and, endeavouring 
to exculpate his homicidal deed, she boldly stated, 
" Orsini is not a vulgar murderer, like that wretch 
Pianori. He is a proud and daring man, and he 
has my full esteem." 

In and out of time she pleaded energetically in 
his favour. Her soul was truly republican. 
Hitherto no thought of protest had quickened her 
heart and conscience at the sight of the cruel 
reprisals indulged in by the authorities, who 
assumed the right to proscribe all suspects without 
judgment, and to imprison them without stating 
their motives for so doing. But the case of 
Orsini had played upon the chords of her heart. 
An outburst of sincere generosity made her crave 
for mercy in his behalf at the hands of the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 149 

Emperor. With tears she implored of him to 
spare the life of the assassin, and by so doing to 
bring a blessing upon their infant son. The last 
words of the sentenced man, his patriotic appeal 
to Napoleon the Third in the name of Italy, had 
moved her to tears. But she could not re- 
prieve the capital sentence which condemned him 
to die ; the magnitude of his crime excelled 
that of the greatest clemency. As a direct con- 
sequence of the drama and the upheaval which 
it created, her own individuality acquired an 
unexpected greatness, both moral and political. 
Her courage in danger had elicited unanimous 
admiration. Then came the period of reflection, 
followed by meditations upon possible events 
of the morrow. Her faithful adherents foresaw 
the risks suddenly born to the succession to the 
throne : the Emperor murdered by the bullet of a 
revolutionary and the beautiful Empress with her 
prattling babe asking the Army to protect her 
and to save France. The public mind had so 
much dwelt upon this theme that to many it 
almost became an accomplished fact ; the Emperor 
was forgotten for the moment, the French 
nation looked upon him as a negligible quantity, 
though in fact he reigned and shaped the 
destinies of the Empire. Napoleon, whom the 
bombs of Orsini had brutally reminded of the 
promises made by him to the Italian Liberals, but 



i 5 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

never kept, Napoleon was borne down with care, 
the while Eugénie revelled ingenuously in her 
triumph as a heroine. Among the military- 
addresses of congratulation forwarded after the 
attempt, signed by generals, colonels, officers of 
all ranks, and containing protestations of their 
devotion towards the Imperial babe and the even- 
tual Regent, two went so far as to compare her 
with Marie Thérèse, the great Empress. The 
dominant note of the thoughts and purposes of 
the day was undoubtedly the preoccupation of 
all concerning the dynastic inheritance in case 
the Emperor were removed by the hand of a 
murderer. 

On the night of the 19th February a strange 
conversation took place in the presence of the 
Empress. With soldierly frankness, General Espi- 
nasse was unfolding his plans in case he were 
called upon to repress Republican acts of dis- 
loyalty. He would, he said, lay a heavy hand 
upon some, expel or hurl others into gaol, and thus 
nip the evil in the bud. Carried away by the heat 
of his own eloquence, he did not measure the terms 
he used, and coloured them with the addition of 
frequent curses. At last he remembered that he 
was talking to a lady, that he was in her drawing- 
room, and he apologized profusely. The Empress, 
who willingly excused the broad language of 
Espinasse because of the intentions which im- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 151 

pelled it, replied: "Go on, continue, General; 
repeat what you have said : I love to hear it." 
This regency was to come to her in due course, 
and in peaceful circumstances, although her 
counsellors had foreseen its advent amid a sea 
of trouble and anxiety. 

The bursting of Orsini's shell was a brutal 
summons to Napoleon to set his hand at once to 
the great business of his reign, the reconstruction 
of Italian nationality. Towards this goal he felt 
himself fatally urged. Motives for war with 
Austria were easily invoked. In his impatience 
to follow in the lines of his famous uncle and to 
prove to the world the military aptitudes which 
he believed he possessed as an heirloom, the 
Emperor announced his determination to assume 
supreme command of his troops. This decision 
seemed inopportune, if not daring, considering the 
newness of his reign. Not a few among his 
followers cast the responsibility of it upon the 
excited and hasty counsels of the Empress. Later 
it was fully recognized that she had in no way 
charged her mind in the sense of these bellicose 
undertakings, but that for once, at least, she had 
cast her lot in the direction of prudence and 
common-sense. 

Napoleon, however, had settled his departure. 
Having had the opportunity on the 14th January, 
1858, of appreciating the power of her moral 



152 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

resistance, under the appearance of frivolity, he 
conferred upon the Empress the official regency, 
thus enhancing her personality by increasing her 
authority. His act evoked no surprise on her 
part, and with the help of her Ministers she en- 
deavoured to perform her duties without trouble 
or affectation. There was no immediate cause for 
alarm. Political eventualities of the day were not 
pregnant with grave peril. All was well in home 
affairs, and public confidence had been won. 
Eugénie had only to let herself be borne along 
by favourable currents. With much complacency, 
her prudence and premature maturity were lauded 
to the skies. The governing authorities assumed 
an air of conviction as they pretended to hold in 
deep respect and consideration the attitude of the 
Empress and the beneficial effect of her presence 
at their deliberations. She took to her new calling 
with fulness of heart, for she was intimately 
flattered and pleased to discover within herself 
such unexpected resources and unsuspected 
abilities. In the course of a matutinal visit 
Mérimée once found her deeply engaged in 
studying to the letter the Constitution of France. 
Truth to tell, no incidents of much moment 
occurred during the regency of Eugénie in 1859. 
Some minor occurrences were easily solved by the 
intervention of the Empress — strikes, to wit, such 
as that of the cabmen, which she brought to a 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 153 

speedy end by ordering the soldiery of the Com- 
missariat and Remount departments to take whip 
and reins in hand and drive the Parisians to their 
destinations. The Government machine was self- 
propelled, and proceeded without a hitch. 

Foreign news of a most satisfactory nature 
continued to pour in daily. On the 13th July the 
Empress and the Prince Imperial drove from 
the Château of the Tuileries to Notre-Dame to 
be present at the Te Deum of Solférino. Their 
carriage, filled with bouquets, the gifts of the 
National Guard, wended its way upon a bed of 
flowers. On her return from the cathedral a 
greater ovation still awaited her, and these joyous, 
popular outbursts betokened the speedy conclusion 
of the war. Such presages warmed the heart 
of Eugénie. 

As we have already stated, she did not en- 
courage the campaign of Italy. Quite the 
contrary. Before it was inaugurated, her 
ultramontane faith became alarmed at the 
dangers which that campaign spelt to the papal 
sovereignty. Moreover, on learning that the 
Emperor had decided to direct the active opera- 
tions, her heart was filled with apprehension. 
She shuddered at the thought that while risking 
the deadly chances of a battle, he might leave 
upon the plains of Lombardy not only his life 
but his crown, which was obtained too recently 



154 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to have yet acquired such stability as would 
maintain it upon the head of a woman or a 
child should its present wearer be taken. As 
the soldiers marched past the Tuileries on their 
way to action, the crowd had seen the Empress 
bathed in tears upon the balcony. In tears she 
bade good-bye to those who went to meet their 
fate, not knowing why, and who greeted her with 
wild enthusiasm. At that moment she thought, 
no doubt, that in their serried ranks were many 
youths who would be snatched from life, from 
their aspirations of joy, happiness and love, in 
order to accomplish the designs of a Piedmontese 
Minister. Such influence as she exerted upon 
the events of the war of Italy tended to hasten 
its peaceful solution. We know how the sud- 
denness of its conclusion surprised the minds 
of the keenest political auguries. To the 
armaments of Prussia, to the concentration of 
German troops beyond the Rhine, to such 
reasons as the humanitarian sentiments of the 
Emperor, rudely shocked by the horrors of the 
field of battle, could be assigned the sudden 
halt upon the road to victory. But this halt 
was not brought about upon the banks of the 
Adige, nor yet upon those of the Rhine. It was 
due to secret influences that sprang from an 
Imperial source. We have the proof of this in 
the unpublished and interesting testimony of the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 155 

late chaplain of the Empress, Bernard Bauer. 
Long after the French Empire had ceased to 
exist, save in the far-away memory of days gone 
by, and then only in the light of a by-gone 
greatness, Bauer was in Geneva, where he met 
Elizabeth, Empress and Queen of Austria-Hun- 
gary. It was during the month preceding the 
attempt, inane because it was unjustifiable, to 
which she fell a victim. Four or five times 
the wandering Sovereign and the priest, who 
had voluntarily left the bosom of the Church, 
had met upon the beaten tracks of Europe. 
Their conversations had never borne upon 
politics and the thorny themes arising therefrom, 
which she loathed. Their intelligences found it 
pleasanter to commune under the profane species 
of a common cult for the genius of Henri Heine. 
On this last occasion Bauer had come to do 
homage to the giant in his marvellous town of 
Leman, and Elizabeth directed her conversation 
for the first and the last time, alas ! upon the visit 
in 1867 of the French Imperial couple to the 
Austro- Hungarian couple at Salzburg. It was 
a visit of painful condolence, for Maximilian 
had just fallen, riddled by the bullets of the 
Juarists. Francis Joseph's heart still bled from 
the horrible wound inflicted by the political 
murder of his brother, and his sorrow of it was 
kindled by the loss of two precious jewels in his 



i 5 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

crown, the provinces of Lombardy and Venetia. 
But in the midst of Court ceremonials, and during 
the exchange of empty compliments dictated by 
Court Chamberlains, the Monarchs who yesterday 
had been at each other's throats and to-day were 
linked by the bonds of hospitality, could hardly 
find words of sincere condolence in which to 
express their personal feelings. The one left 
the land of Austria without having told his 
secret ; the other, a reticent man, has kept it 
ever since. 

The Empresses were more expansive, and an 
echo of their conversation reached the ear of a 
visitor during a garden-party, on the last day 
of relaxation, of her who was soon to be 
stabbed by Luccheni. The august and weary 
traveller, whose previous conversation had merely 
touched upon the vague impressions of art and 
poetry, dwelt at full length upon her recollections 
of the meeting at Salzburg. Having expressed 
her personal sympathy towards the widow of the 
last Emperor of the French, she added, " I 
know that she met with keen opposition during 
the war of Italy, and yet its termination was to 
a great extent her work. To ourselves she had 
expressed her deep regret at her inability to pre- 
vent or stay the fateful battles. But her comfort 
lay in the thought that she was at least able 
to curtail the sufferings brought on by them." 






THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 157 

(Would that she had always been as wise in her 
counsels!) The 16th July was the last day 
spent by the Emperor upon Italian territory, and 
his departure was as pleasing to his allies as to 
himself. King Victor Emmanuel, the Prince of 
Carignan and the numerous suite had accom- 
panied him as far as Suza, the terminus of the 
railway. The two Monarchs had parted after 
an effusive accolade which could scarcely hide 
their mutual coolness. As Napoleon's cortège 
was borne away in the travelling barouches that 
had to ascend the heights of Mont Cenis in 
order to reach Saint- Jean de Maurienne, the 
King of Italy had returned to his State saloon 
on his way back to Turin. When the train 
steamed out, he heaved a sigh of ungrateful 
relief, and said, "At last he is gone!" The 
Italians bore their liberator a grudge for having 
stopped half-way, instead of securing for them 
their full freedom at one blow. 

That his departure was more or less regretted 
was a matter which did not weigh long with 
Napoleon. On the 17th July he was back in the 
Castle of Saint-Cloud, the most beautiful of all the 
castles of France and Navarre. He had emerged 
from a war which had almost proved disastrous to 
him on two occasions, and now his one am- 
bition was to recover from the unpleasant shock 
it had caused. Having delivered official speeches 



i 5 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to the bodies of the State and spoken solemn 
words to his subjects, he basked with delight in 
the company of Eugénie, of his infant child and his 
intimate friends, to whom his return had brought 
peace and happiness. It was the period of the 
year when, flying from the heat and dust of Paris, 
the Court sought its pleasures in the shaded 
groves of parks and forests. The Emperor en- 
joyed a halt replete with charm, and thus prolonged 
his vacations. Our narrative must now suspend its 
course while we describe the tableaux and in- 
cidents born of the change of scene. They 
afford an important background to the story of the 
Emperor's private life. Fontainebleau, Saint- 
Cloud, Biarritz, endless chronicles could be written 
about them ! 



CHAPTER VI 

The summer months— Journeys of the Court— Saint-Cloud— The 
Empress's antipathy to the place — Eugénie spends long hours 
alone in the Château — The arrival of the Emperor and his 
Court lends animation to the receptions of Saint-Cloud— 
Various pastimes at Court — Joyous doings at Villeneuve- 
l'Etang in May 1853 — From Saint-Cloud to Fontainebleau— 
Royalist reminiscences in this majestic frame — Excursions and 
hunting-parties in the forest — The last lap between Paris and 
Versailles — Return to Paris for the anniversary of the 15th 
August — Departure for Biarritz — September on the Spanish 
frontier — How Eugénie de Montijo created Biarritz — The Villa 
Eugénie and its prevailing tone — Foreign guests, among them 
Mr. de Bismarck— Nomadic tastes of the Napoleonic Court — 
Compiègne — Hunting-parties, receptions, balls — Theatrical 
performances — Sunny days and rainy days — A faithful sketch 
of the existence of the Court at Compiègne, with the figure 
of the Empress in the centre— Ending of the holidays and 
resumption of official festivities. 

As soon as the month of May began, all was held 
in readiness for the departure from the Tuileries 
to Saint-Cloud, where the Court adjourned for 
several months of the summer, with an inter- 
mediate visit to Fontainebleau at the end of 
June and the beginning of July. On returning 
from Biarritz, and pending the opening of the 
hunting season at Compiègne, the Court was 
again in residence at Saint-Cloud. 

One of Nature's marvels, situated between Paris 
and Versailles, it was a spot beautified by every 
art. The River Seine bathed the foot of these 
159 



i6o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

grassy slopes, and in front of the Castle the waters 
spurted in mid-air, falling back in cascades upon 
the marble steps. In the offing, the immense 
panorama of the capital. Within, superb apart- 
ments, disposed with artistic luxury and furnished 
with admirable taste, opened on to the flower- 
beds situated upon the outskirts of the park. 
Such was the Royal domain in perspective and 
ensemble, of which Charles X, the last of the 
Bourbons, spoke thus, when exiled in Bohemia — 

" I deplore the loss of two things — Saint- 
Cloud and my kingdom of France ; but I 
deplore the loss of the former more bitterly than 
that of the latter." 

The Emperor, too, was enamoured of the place. 
As he grew older, the little Prince was wont 
to display his keen joy each time he returned 
there ; Eugénie alone derived small pleasure from 
her sojourn in this peaceful residence. 1 

One would have thought that she could have 
realized in Saint-Cloud the legendary splendours 
of the flat roofs of Babylon, created for the plea- 
sure of the haughty Sémiramis, but she never 
took much interest in it, and it grew weaker each 
year after she had created Biarritz. Saint-Cloud 
was not furnished according to her tastes, nor was 
its disposition the result of her work, as in the 

1 " You know that the Empress cannot bear the sight of 
Saint-Cloud" (Me'rimée, letter to Panizzi, 22nd August, 1864). 




P=ftJT 



THE EMPEROR, THE EMPRESS AND THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 
(1858). 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 161 

case of the apartments at Fontainebleau, or of her 
marvellous residence at Compiègne. 

But those who were bidden to share the plea- 
sures of the Royal palace did so, however, to the 
fullest extent. A certain amount of laisser-aller 
was tolerated at the house-parties of Saint-Cloud. 
The animation that reigned was proportionate to 
the presence or the absence of the Emperor. 
When he went to Plombières or to Vichy to take 
the waters, the expenditure at Saint-Cloud was 
somewhat restricted, and the receptions far from 
numerous. Barely a dozen guests sat down to 
dinner each night, far too small a number to afford 
an atmosphere of life or animation to such lofty 
apartments. 

Each morning the Empress would drive out 
with her reader in a light phaeton drawn by two 
black ponies, and driven by herself. Towards 
five in the afternoon she drove again around the 
Bois in a Daumont. After dinner, on fine even- 
ings, she would often drive again in an open 
vis-à-vis through the lanes of Meudon as far as 
Versailles, and the rest of the day was spent by 
her reading, drawing or writing in her private 
apartments. 

Life and gaiety returned to Saint- Cloud as soon 
as the Emperor repaired there. The Council of 
Ministers was held twice a week, and the members 
of the Cabinet and of the Privy Council remained 



i62 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

each time to lunch. With common consent the 
worries of official business were forsaken for the 
nonce ; conversation turned upon general ques- 
tions, and the only reminder of their official positions 
proffered to the State officials was that afforded 
by some lady in waiting who sought to obtain 
from these exalted statesmen some favour for a 
friend or relative. 

The salons at Saint-Cloud were thrown open 
for magnificent receptions, especially during the 
first years of the reign. In 1853 the ball given in 
honour of the Duke of Genoa was attended by 
1500 guests. 

Save in such exceptional cases, the mode of 
living was extremely simple and homely. No 
serial invitations were issued, as was the case at 
Compiègne and at Fontainebleau. The trammels 
of etiquette seemed abolished. The men dined in 
frock-coats, and one and all did as they pleased. 
At times there were slight variations in the ordain- 
ment of the day's distractions, such as luncheon- 
parties under canvas, garden-parties, races on the 
water at Saint-Cloud or Villeneuve-l'Etanc. On 
such occasions the guests indulged in childish 
frolics. At Villeneuve-l'Etang, on the 7th May, 
1853, much merriment was caused by a sham 
military action, the recollection of which lin- 
gered long in the memory of those who took part 
in it. The fortress was represented by a grass- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 163 

covered mamelon, which the Empress and her 
ladies in waiting had to defend vigorously against 
attacks from without. The men, headed by the 
Emperor, effected the assault with incredible 
bravery, and naturally took the position. Though 
he played an important part in the proceedings, 
a foreign ambassador mentions in his impres- 
sions that the whole farce was enacted with far 
too much levity and familiarity. 

During the long and warm days of June 
and July the scene changed. With the 
majestic galleries of its palace, its works of art, 
its treble girth of parks, its thick forests, and its 
vine-cradles, Fontainebleau had the honour of 
becoming the official residence. 

What Royal souvenirs had not left their traces, 
since the gallant days of the Valois, in the halls, 
gardens and woods of this fastuous residence ? 
Under the monarchy of the Bourbons hunting- 
parties, festivals, banquets and adventures of love 
had come and gone. The public Treasury was 
mulcted in five or six millions of francs whenever 
Louis XV, surrounded by his numerous Court, 
spent six weeks at Fontainebleau. But who 
dared reckon the expenditure of the King ? 
11 The Well-Beloved" was followed thither by the 
best actors and the actresses who had gained fame 
through their talent or their beauty, and con- 
temporaries all state that, during those six weeks, 



1 64 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Fontainebleau was more brilliant than Versailles. 
It maintained its reputation under the Second 
Empire. 

The ceremonial observed there was the same 
as at Compiègne. The guests arrived by special 
train on a determined day. The Royal equipages 
awaited them at the station, and they were swiftly 
borne to the palace through the streets made gay 
with bunting. When they reached their destina- 
tion the landaus and the brakes wheeled in to the 
Horse-shoe Courtyard, and the travellers set foot 
before the great stairs of honour. They entered 
the first vestibule, proceeded through the gallery, 
so beautifully ornamented with wainscotings and 
paintings of the greatest value. Hence they passed 
into the apartments prepared for them, where 
they spent a week or a fortnight, according to the 
Imperial invitation. We find in the diary of 
Count Hubner a faithful description of the life 
at Fontainebleau — 

" On an autumn day the Emperor, the Empress, 
Princess Mathilde and a number of guests, ladies 
and gentlemen, appeared at lunch in hunting 
attire. The meeting was to take place at La 
Croix de Toulouse, about a mile and a half from 
the Castle. The Emperor was mounted on an 
English thoroughbred and Eugénie upon a white 
Andalusian horse. Both huntsmen and guests 
did marvels. When the party returned, the pro- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 165 

vincial authorities and the Ministers who had 
come to attend the next day's meeting were 
invited to a dinner of one hundred covers. When 
the repast was over, the hunting-horns sounded 
the quarry in the park. The guests rushed out 
to witness it. They returned in time for the ball, 
which began to the strain of a barrel-organ, the 
handle of which was turned alternately by General 
Rollin and by Bacciochi, the Chamberlain. During 
two and a half hours the ears of the guests had to 
be satisfied with this elementary music, the hear- 
ing of which caused surprise to strangers when 
first bidden to appreciate it. The Emperor would 
then explain to them that he could not bear the 
presence of musicians in his apartments. The 
organ-grinders and the dancers were afforded 
intervals of rest, during which ' innocent games ' 
were indulged in, as well as occasional charades. 
Then polkas, waltzes and quadrilles were resumed, 
till the Emperor led off a final round, at the end 
of which the guests retired to rest, hoping that 
they might dance again to the sweet strains 
afforded by General Rollin and the Chamberlain 
Bacciochi." 

Eugénie enjoyed her stays at Fontainebleau. 
She delighted in its majestic scenery, its 
ample galleries, and the Chinese drawing-room, 
filled with the precious booty of the Summer 
Palace, the proceeds of Palikao's plunders in 



1 66 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

China. She loved her little boudoir, where she 
often retired to indulge her taste for smoking. 
She endeavoured to her utmost to make her 
guests share her pleasure. They would have 
done so to the full, especially those among them 
who possessed more thoughtful, sober natures, 
had they been allowed to roam at will alone or in 
twos and threes, and thus derive full benefit from 
the beautiful forest and its surrounding landscape. 

One and all, however, admitted that the host 
and hostess were most attentive and thoughtful. 
After the midday repast, the guests at the Palace 
would stroll away along the water, or wander 
through the paths of the forest, on the lawns, or 
amid the thickets. Many of the ladies wore 
dresses copied from the figures of Winterhalter, 
the painter, consisting of a short and full skirt, and 
red Garibaldi blouses. Their head-gear consisted 
of light, wide garden hats. Upon the lawn, sloping 
towards the river, a bevy of elegant men and 
savants somewhat out of their element gathered 
round the Empress in company with famous 
authors and the notabilities of the day. They 
vied with one another in witty conversations, 
scented with all the fragrance of the Decameron. 

The following description by one of the guests 
gives one an idea of the delightful picture presented 
by these gatherings — 

" On the arrival of the Empress we repaired to 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 167 

dinner. It was served in the gallery of Henry II, 
the most beautiful banqueting-hall that I have 
ever seen. The Guards band played during the 
repast, and coffee was served at the dinner-tables. 
The guests then repaired to the Chinese drawing- 
room on the ground floor looking out on the lake, 
where a little steam yacht was anchored in the 
midst of sailing craft. Some of the party went 
for a sail, and the vision in the twilight was one 
never to be forgotten. 

" The Empress remained in the drawing-room, 
chatting with the Archbishop of Sens, and bade 
me sit by her side. Conversation lasted over half- 
an-hour, after which she rose and disappeared, to 
return in a quarter of an hour for tea. Mean- 
while she had changed her dress, having discarded 
her long white-and-blue train for a short narrow 
dress, cut very low. She wore little white slippers 
all embroidered in silver. I make bold to say that 
no Diana, no Corisandra, no Gabrielle, ever made 
a more graceful, a lighter or more triumphant 
entrance than hers. In appearance she was twenty 
years of age. She sat on a large sofa, her back 
turned to the wide window that opened on the 
left. As I sat facing her, I beheld a stretch of dis- 
tant verdure, and luminous waters with a back- 
ground of starred and spangled azure. Conver- 
sation lasted till midnight, and touched upon sub- 
jects of all sorts — the Palace, the recollections 



i68 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

it evoked, Marie Antoinette, Monadelschi and 
Madame de Motteville. We then joined the 
Emperor, who was playing chess in the next 
room. It was indeed a gay and happy evening." 

Now and again collective distractions claimed 
those present. A long line of brakes, in which 
one was never sure of being paired off to one's 
liking, awaited the guests on certain days, and 
bore them away to a destination which had been 
determined beforehand. All were expected to 
take part in these excursions, to the discomfiture 
of a Prosper Mérimée or an Octave Feuillet, who 
little relished taking their pleasure on the co- 
operative system. 

Eugénie displayed a tyrannical spirit on these 
excursions, which, when decided upon, had to 
take place regardless of the weather or personal dis- 
comfort. The first carriage contained the Imperial 
Family, ladies in waiting and such guests as could 
lay claim to special consideration. The second 
brake was packed with aides-de-camp, equerries, 
chamberlains, orderly officers and lady companions, 
separated or not from their legitimate companions ; 
and so with the other vehicles, that were filled 
haphazard. At a rapid gait the party was borne 
away through valleys, gorges and cross-ways 
until the appointed destination was reached — the 
11 Longues-Roches," for instance, a real mountain 
that extends over two miles in the midst of the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 169 

forest. Ever daring, Eugénie would decide upon 
an ascent of the rocky heights, and it was no 
sooner said than done. Led by the Empress, 
the intrepid members of the party followed in her 
wake, while the laggards, weighted with years and 
obesity, perspired, puffed and sighed, murmuring 
the while that such excursions were certainly not 
without their drawbacks. Then a storm would 
break out, and the climbers, overtaken by a down- 
pour, were seen to beat back drenched and dis- 
consolate. More sighs, more lamentations ! If 
wise counsels had been heeded, how rapidly a 
return to the Castle would have been effected ! 
But the Empress, undaunted, would stand admir- 
ing the landscape, that derived still more interest 
from the dark shadows falling upon it and the 
background of black clouds rent here and there 
by streaks of lightning. The courtiers endeavoured 
to share the enthusiam of the poetic Sovereign. 
As the elements began to show their teeth, the 
timorous members of the party sought in vain for 
safe shelter. Alas ! they were surrounded by 
mounds of stones, with here and there a few trees 
studded in the barren wilderness. Heavy drops 
began to fall with crackling sound, and leisurely, 
with an arch smile, the Empress opened an 
elegant parasol with a handle of Cornaline and 
chiselled gold. Then, and only then, did the pain- 
ful descent begin. Down the long ridge of 



i;o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

slippery rocks, the party, drenched and truly 
miserable, was conveyed at last back to the 
Château. The bulletin of the morrow invariably 
notified the fact that two or three Academicians 
suffered from heavy colds, and that half-a-dozen 
Counsellors of State were laid up with lumbago ! 

The Empress herself did not always escape 
with impunity, and was often laid up as a result of 
these escapades on land or water. In one of his 
numerous letters to Panizzi, Mérimée mentions 
that Her Majesty "is laid up with a heavy cold, 
which she contracted while testing her gondola 
on the lake, in shocking weather." l And he added 
in a postscript, " I cannot imagine how she gets 
under the ■ felice ' with her crinoline, nor can I 
imagine how the gondola is steered unless Vene- 
tian gondoliers have been commandeered." 

Boating was one of the favourite pastimes at 
Fontainebleau. On the large pond, pompously 
termed the lake, one beheld all sorts and manners 
of little craft, canoes, Constantinople caiques, 
manned by Caikdjies, and Venetian gondolas 
propelled by Venetian gondoliers. On one occa- 
sion the Emperor's canoe was so awkwardly 

1 Octave Feuillet wrote as follows : " No Empress at dinner 
last night. She is suffering from bronchial catarrh. I sat facing 
His Majesty, who was in the best of humour. He quoted to us 
the menu of a dinner conceived by Alexander Uumas, contain- 
ing, among other dishes, a roast octopus." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 171 

paddled by him that it capsized. The untoward 
emersion of His Majesty was a thrilling event. 

Canoeing, hunting, shooting, dining, supping, 
amateur theatricals, charades, such were the 
occupations of the Court. At Compiègne and at 
the Tuileries, at Saint-Cloud and at Fontainebleau 
love intrigues held sway, as they ever will where 
young folk, thirsting for adventures, are brought 
together, leading a life of idleness. There was 
a regiment of chamberlains, aides-de-camp and 
equerries known as " the lively clan." Its members 
did everything to deserve this appellation. As 
soon as they could escape from the guest-chamber, 
where staid men were assembled, they repaired to 
the ground floor drawing-room, which served as 
a club for their lady friends and themselves. Here 
many sayings and doings were often indulged in, 
to which the grave and austere women took 
offence, without saying so, for the Empress 
tolerated such levities, and was even accused of 
fostering them by her silence. Truth to tell, even 
the austere members of the Court found delecta- 
tion in the life at Fontainebleau. They had barely 
time to write short epistles to their folk at home, 
for their time was fully occupied by excursions, 
hunting-parties, sailing expeditions, and the other 
pursuits indulged in. 

As soon as the residence at Fontainebleau came 
to an end, the Court indulged in a further summer 



i72 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

spell at Saint-Cloud before repairing to Biarritz. 
From Saint-Cloud the Royal party came to Paris 
for the 15th August. Was not this the date 
on which the bells rang joyfully, the drums beat 
tattoo, the date on which the streets were full of 
bunting, in honour of the feast of the Chief of the 
State ? Was it not Saint Napoleon's Day, a new 
saint in favour of whom the calendar of the 
Apostolic and Roman Church had gracefully been 
augmented ? The Duke of Cambacérès was wont 
to issue a thousand invitations to the members of 
the Imperial Family, Court dignitaries, Senators 
and Deputies who were bidden to the official 
reception at the Tuileries. Those chosen by the 
Protocole foregathered in the Apollo drawing- 
room before High Mass was sung by the leading 
artists of the Opéra and the choruses of the Con- 
servatoire. A procession was then formed, which, 
headed by the Sovereigns, proceeded to attend 
a ceremony, religious so far as its object was con- 
cerned, but profane owing to the seductions offered 
by the music, the perfume and the worldliness of 
the congregation. When Mass was over, the Em- 
peror received the congratulations of his courtiers 
and his leading subjects in the hall of Peace. The 
night was given over to popular demonstrations 
and street rejoicings ; public monuments were 
profusely illuminated. Long strings of lamps 
linked up the trees of the leading avenues and 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 173 

boulevards, and the Place de la Concorde was 
girthed by a belt of fire tempered by opaque 
globes that looked like a circle of stars. Fire- 
works lit up various points of the capital, and a 
thousand acclamations heralded the pyrotechnic 
insignia of Imperial power. Public rejoicings were 
re-echoed at Saint-Cloud on the anniversary of the 
15th November. The Feast of Eugénie was cele- 
brated in a more intimate way, however, and in a 
more discreet manner. The apartments of the 
Castle were filled with flowers. From all parts 
bouquets, baskets and floral offerings were sent 
to the young Empress. The reception over, a 
theatrical performance was given, while the park 
and grounds were one blaze of multi-coloured 
lights. 

Napoleon and Eugénie found time to change 
their residence between the 15th August and 
the 15th November. When the soft breezes 
of September succeeded the overpowering heat of 
July and August, it was to Biarritz that the 
Empress repaired, on French soil it is true, but 
within a short distance of the land of boleros 
and castanets. Was it not on account of its 
facility to Spain that she discovered and created 
Biarritz ? Before she selected it as her favoured 
watering-station, Biarritz, to-day invaded by a 
noisy cosmopolitan colony, seemed lost on the 
map. It was but a hamlet, even in the heraldic 



174 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

times when the Biarritz fishermen harpooned the 
whale in the deep waters of the Bay of Biscay. 
The name of the obscure village, composed of a 
few humble huts, was never mentioned in society. 
As Mademoiselle de Montijo, Eugénie had often 
stayed at Biarritz during her trips from France to 
Spain, or Spain to France. She had been struck 
by the beautiful beach of finest sand, by the quaint- 
shaped rocks, emerging here and there along the 
shore, by the poetic grottos and the majesty of the 
surrounding mountains. All this had created in 
her mind the impression of a savage, grandiose, 
majestic spot. 

She was seduced not only by the beauty of the 
place, but by its proximity to her country, and its 
affinity to the customs and climate of her native 
land. She expressed to the Emperor her wish 
to settle there during September, and to build a 
modest residence for that purpose. The effect of 
the Imperial residence would be most beneficial, 
she added, to a beautiful district which had been 
most unjustly ignored. She resolved to do for 
Biarritz what the Duchess de Berry had done for 
Dieppe. For the first time, Napoleon went to 
Biarritz in 1853 with the Empress. The Imperial 
Consorts occupied the Château de Grammont, the 
property of Monsieur Labat, Deputy for the 
Basses-Pyrénées. The Emperor admired the 
neighbourhood, and was won over to it. The 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 175 

following year, the foundation stone of the Villa 
Eugénie was laid, and it was decided that each 
year this residence would afford their Majesties 
complete rest and freedom from the exigencies of 
Court ceremonials which still hampered them to a 
certain extent at Compiègne and at Fontainebleau. 
Their original intentions were more than modest, 
for it was decided that they should live there on 
a very quiet footing. In fact, they contemplated 
leading quite a bourgeois, family existence. But 
little by little the family circle grew wider, invita- 
tions became more frequent, courtiers followed 
their Majesties to Biarritz, and Eugénie soon 
found it well-nigh impossible to satisfy her yearn- 
ings for a simple life, the enjoyment of which was 
always subject to the condition that at a moment's 
notice, if it so pleased her, she could ascend her 
throne and become once more " The Empress." 

It was at Biarritz, at the dinner-table where 
Mérimée and a few elect were bidden, that she 
revealed herself in the most unaffected and natural 
manner. She lent animation to all around her. 
Her conversation was more or less unhinged, for 
she gave free vent to her thoughts with the 
vivacity that was hers. She spoke so fast on 
such occasions that at times she gave utterance 
to very awkward sayings. These were attributed 
to absent-mindedness or to a certain ingenuity 
cloaked by ingenuous appearances. The follow- 



176 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

ing incident affords a good example of such indis- 
cretions, slips of the tongue or slips of the mind. 
The seraphic personality of Saint Teresa, patron 
saint of Spain, was the subject of conversation 
one evening. Eugénie de Montijo, fired by the 
traditions of her country, spoke enthusiastically of 
the famous mystic to whom God was present in 
all things, but whose ecstasies and continuous 
absorption in the dream of a divine idealism did 
not prevent her from leading an active as well as 
a contemplative life, as proved by the high 
administrative talents she displayed in reforming 
her order and in the many foundations she effected. 
The Emperor let her continue in this strain as 
he smoked the eternal cigarette. Baron Haus- 
mann smiled. His was a sceptical smile, that of 
the courtier whose subtleness cloaked the irony of 
the Voltairian. 

" You do not perhaps know, Baron, that Saint 
Teresa was one of my ancestors." This was said 
thoughtlessly, but it expressed the pride that 
Eugénie de Montijo displayed when speaking of 
her forefathers. 

" How was that, your Majesty ? " 

" Why, through different alliances contracted 
during the twelfth and fourteenth centuries between 
the Montijos and the Ahumelas." 

"So, then," interjected the Imperial smoker, 
"you are really descended from Saint Teresa?" 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 177 

11 Certainly." 

11 In a direct line, do you say ? " 

" In a direct line, Sire." 

So earnestly were these words pronounced, 
that all present had to screw their lips to avoid 
bursting into laughter. 

" But," continued the Emperor, "how can that 
be, since Saint Teresa died a virgin ? " 

"Oh, Sire, you're making me talk nonsense." 

All present indulged in hearty merriment, in 
which the Empress joined. 

Within a short time, Biarritz became the head- 
quarters of Spanish society, which the Empress 
so dearly loved, while Saint - Sebastian, the 
neighbouring town, still remained a little fortress 
bereft of decent hotels or comfortable residences. 
To Biarritz came personages of the highest rank. 
Princes and kings, kings and princes, dukes and 
duchesses foregathered round the Emperor and 
Empress. It was here that Napoleon found 
a golden chance of pursuing his extra-official 
policy, and when in residence at the Villa 
Eugénie he avoided as much as possible all 
intercourse with his Ministers. Twice a week 
his attachés brought him the diplomatic valise 
from Paris, and returned thither bearing his 
instructions. In 1865 Biarritz witnessed the 
famous interview between Napoleon and Bis- 
marck, France's deadliest enemy. Bismarck, 



178 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

wittily described by Hanotaux as a great amateur 
of thermal diplomacy, had come to resume the 
conversation which had been interrupted at Plom- 
bières. Moreover, he wished to dispel the painful 
impression caused by the convention of Gastein. 
The daring ambition of Prussia, the growing 
rivalry between the two German Powers, the 
personality of Bismarck, a great man in the 
opinion of some, a laughable politician in that of 
others, the more interesting to study as he was 
much criticized, all this lent great importance to 
his visit. Until his arrival, the conversation of 
the little party at Biarritz had borne upon various 
subjects, such as the illness of the King of the 
Belgians, the recent demise of General de 
Lamoricière, the unforeseen marriage of Princess 
Anna Murat and the Duke de Mouchy, 1 the 

1 " Your friend Princess Anna Murat is about to marry the 
Duke de Mouchy, one of the most brilliant young men of 
the period. He is her junior by about a month, has two 
hundred thousand francs a year, and pleasant features. He is 
very polite and less affected than the average gilded youth. 
Strange to say, he is related to the most uncompromising 
legitimists in this country. The Duke de Noailles is his 
uncle" (Me'rimée, letter to Pannizzi, 2nd November, 1865). 

The same chronicler, whom we must always consult on 
questions concerning the intimate life of the Imperial Court, 
complained of not having been admitted to the secret con- 
cerning the interview of Biarritz. For this slight he avenged 
himself by telling anecdotes about all concerned. On the 13th 

October, 1865, he wrote from Paris, "Madame de M , being 

German, has great admiration for Mr. de Bismarck, and we 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 179 

tidings of which had created great commotion 
among the residents of the heraldic faubourg. 
With fulsome admiration the guests commented 
upon the heroic courage of the Empress, who 
had gone to the death-bed of a child suffering 
from a most contagious malady, but their en- 
thusiasm was all the greater as the victim was 
the child of Emile de Girardin, a political 

teased her mercilessly about the forward ways of the great man, 
whom she certainly encouraged. A few days ago I drew the 
head of Bismarck, and a very good likeness it was. That 
evening their Majesties and myself went to the bedroom of 

Madame de M and placed the sketch upon her pillow 

and a bolster between the sheets that represented a human 
form. Then the Empress tied a handkerchief around the 
forehead of the drawing and made it look like a night-cap. 
In the twilight the illusion was perfect. When their Majesties 

retired to bed we kept Madame de M chatting a while, so 

that they could hide at the end of the corridor, then we all 

pretended to retire to our rooms. Madame de M entered 

her room, but suddenly rushed out and knocked at the door 
of Madame de Lourmel, and exclaimed in pitiful tones, 
'There is a man in my bed.' Unfortunately Madame de 
Lourmel could not keep her countenance, and as the Empress 
burst out laughing at the other end of the corridor, the joke 
was spoilt. It was rendered all the funnier by the fact, which 
we learnt later, that one of the Emperor's valets had previously 

entered the room of Madame de M , and seeing what he 

thought was a man's head upon the pillow, had retreated in all 
haste, eager, of course, to bear the tidings to the servants' hall. 
They discussed the matter at length, and some of the servants 

suggested that it was, perhaps, M. de M who had come 

to seek the hospitality of his spouse, but this hypothesis was 
negatived by a large majority. Thus did Biarritz spend its 
time while the storm was gathering without." 



i8o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

adversary of the Napoleons. On the appearance 
of Bismarck all gossip ceased, and small talk was 
at an end, save upon such subjects as concerned 
the German Chancellor. The pourparlers be- 
tween the two jousters, alas! unevenly matched, 
were prolonged to an extent that kindled the 
greatest curiosity among those who were not 
admitted to the secret conclave. It was little 
known by them that the main point at issue was 
not the subject of these interviews, where only 
matters of a secondary order were discussed. 
Some time previously the Prussian statesman, 
a tempter and a deceiver, ever ready to lavish 
vain promises, had met the Duke de Grammont, 
French Ambassador, at the country house of 
Count de Rechberg, in the neighbourhood of 
Vienna. He had held out to him the hope that 
in exchange for France's good-will the Rhenish 
provinces might be conceded to her. The time 
seemed ripe for reminding him of this skilful 
indiscretion, and for asking him what was really 
meant by it. Napoleon had himself spoken the 
following words to Monsieur de Goltz : " The eyes 
of my country are turned towards the banks of the 
Rhine." Now he was afforded the opportunity 
of clinching the matter. But ever hesitant, he 
failed to make his views clear. Instead of reach- 
ing the goal, by tackling the German question, 
he wandered off towards Mecca and Con- 



THE LIFE OF AN IMPRESS 181 

stantinople. He wasted the precious minutes 
of Bismarck in long dissertations upon the 
precautions that should be taken against 
cholera. He spoke at length about the Moldo- 
Wallachian provinces. In Berlin, great fear was 
entertained of the military power of the Empire. 
That of Prussia had as yet only dealt the first 
blows against a weakened adversary. The oppor- 
tunity was exceptionally favourable, but what 
conclusion could be come to with a man like 
Napoleon, who ever dreamt of receiving, but never 
dared extend his hand to seize the prey ! Bis- 
marck left his Imperial host much pleased, for 
he felt that henceforth his hands were free. So 
things pursued their usual course at Biarritz, 
impeded only by the vagaries of the weather. 

The Imperial hosts of Biarritz avoided all 
State ceremonial when in residence there. Their 
carriages were of the simplest, and all excursions 
were effected in wagonettes. They often drove 
to Saint-Sebastian, in the Town Hall of which 
are still preserved two beautiful silver urns which 
they presented to the town together with their 
portraits. They indulged in the classical excur- 
sion to la Rune, followed by their courtiers on 
horseback, while the ladies drove in mule-litters. 
Eugénie, ever fond of adventures, much preferred 
excursions at sea. They were more exciting, 
because of the turbulent condition ever prevalent 



i82 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

in the Gulf of Gascony. These excursions gave 
rise to many serious alarms. 

One of them nearly had a fatal termination. 
The Empress, accompanied by her son the 
Prince, had intended to sail down to Saint-Jean 
de Luz, where the Imperial yacht, imperially 
called the Eagle, lay at her moorings. The 
naval officer who was steering her boat missed 
the narrow entrance of the harbour and bore on 
to a rock, heedless of the respectful remonstrances 
of one of the able seamen, a native of Siboure. 
An impact was imminent, and without uttering 
a word, the poor sailor jumped into the water 
and made a buffer of his body between the rock 
and the stem of the skiff. His chest was stove 
in by the crash, and he died the following day, 
having saved the lives of the Empress and the 
young Prince. 

The owners of the Villa Eugénie dearly loved 
their little nest. They felt there as if they 
belonged to themselves for a short spell. They 
could run down to their bathing-machines from 
their apartments by means of a little stairs and 
gangway, the supports of which were drilled into 
the rock. Above this stood a little pavilion, 
jutting out on to the sea, whence, unobserved, 
they could enjoy the healthy breeze of the rising 
tide. Of all this nothing is left save a few 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 183 

supports and iron girders eaten by rust and 
twisted by the storm. 

No sooner had Eugénie discovered Biarritz, 
than its natural beauties became evident to all, 
and within a short time villas and hotels were 
erected with incredible rapidity. They rose as 
if by magic along the crest of the hills, and soon 
occupied the heights that overlook the ocean. 

From October to December, the Court, ever 
fond of change, repaired to Compiègne. During 
the first weeks of their residence, before the guests 
arrived, the Imperial hunt met constantly. An 
elegant and skilful horsewoman, Eugénie seldom 
missed a meeting. 

Then came the three series of visits. Most of 
the guests were invited for one week, while the 
Imperial hospitality was extended for two weeks 
in the case of high State dignitaries. The invita- 
tion on vellum bearing the Imperial arms conveyed 
to its recipients the fact that they were bidden 
to attend the hunt meeting at Compiègne. The 
reception of this document was naturally an event 
eagerly looked forward to by all the subjects of 
Napoleon. Did it reach its destination while 
the fortunate recipients were at the seaside or in 
the country, they hastened to terminate their 
absence and rush back to Paris, there breathlessly 
to complete or perfect their wardrobe, pending 



1 84 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

their early departure for the Imperial Castle. 
There, indeed, they would know the fulness of 
joy. They were to be housed, and provided with 
a seat in the Imperial box at the theatre, and 
a mount at the hunt meetings. Their residence 
at Compiègne would afford them the highest 
social position. A summons to Compiègne was 
equivalent to letters patent of nobility. 

The privileged ones that frequented the Tuil- 
eries were borne to their destination under the 
most pleasant auspices. Court equipages, placed 
at their disposal, conveyed them to the station, 
where a special train awaited the Imperial guests. 
After a pleasant journey, the town of Compiègne, 
gay and bright with bunting, afforded them a 
charming sight. There, they were awaited by 
the Royal equipages, driven by postillions powdered 
and wigged, and followed in the distance by 
numberless vehicles, containing the luggage and 
the servants. 1 After a short drive from the station 
the Court of Honour was reached. The guests 
were led to the guard-room, where the officers 
told off for such duties took charge of those whom 
they had to lead to their apartments. Each lady 
wasthus provided with an aide-de-camp. After 

1 The ladies did not fail to carry as many toilettes as they 
could afford to buy. The result was an endless amount of 
luggage. That of the Princess Metternich alone required a 
whole van to itself. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 185 

a short interval, during which they dressed for 
dinner, the guests were presented in the card-room, 
which afforded a dazzling sight of extravagant 
and lavish display. Everywhere one witnessed 
ostentation in dress and jewellery, and so keen 
was the emulation and rivalry between the women, 
that many of them squandered their capital and 
that of their husbands so as to hold their rank on 
these occasions. 1 Not one of these pretty and 
charming women could possibly have remained 
away from such entertainments, but to be present 
at them they paid a heavy price. It was well 
known, and it was whispered audibly, that the 
exigencies of this refined luxury had caused many 
falterings of feminine virtue, and that it was not 
always the husbands who paid the dressmakers' 
and milliners' bills of their wives. 

As a rule, about eighty guests were bidden to 
lunch, and a hundred to dinner. 2 During the 

1 One of the lady guests of the first series was heard to say, 
" I have been bidden to Compiègne, and have had to sell a 
flour-mill." The chronicler to whom this was said, adds that 
she must have spoken the truth, but that she still had a 
considerable amount of flour on her face. 

2 In his book, Son Excellence Eugene Rougon, Emile Zola 
has left a highly-coloured description of the Compiègne dinners, 
a description semi-romantic, semi-historical, the details of which 
were no doubt furnished by his imagination, but most interest- 
ing for all that. u All through the meal one heard the strains 
of music, of a far-off music that seemed to come from the 
ceiling. At times the guests, awakened by the clash of the 



1 86 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

intervals between these meals, time was occupied 
by excursions and various parties. In the even- 
ing, dancing was indulged in when there was 
no theatrical performance. The first years at 
Compiègne were the gayest. 

" One derives appalling pleasures from a stay 
at Compiègne," said Countess de la Pagerie, with 
a sigh of lassitude. 

Those who were fond of peace and quietude, 
whose souls were not wrapt up in worldly pleasures, 
generally had a surfeit of these festivities at the end 
of a week. The pleasantest days of their sojourn 
were those on which the Imperial hosts left their 
guests to their own devices. This happened when 
there was a Council of Ministers, which the Em- 
press insisted upon attending for two or more 
hours. They blessed their fate if an unforeseen 

brasses, would raise their heads, endeavouring to catch the aria 
that pursued them. Then they heard no more; the tender 
sounds of the clarionets commingled from the furthest end of 
the gallery with the silver sounds of the plate that was carried 
in huge piles from the service-room. Around the table an 
army of servants moved silently, ushers in light blue uniform 
with sword and three-cornered hat, powdered footmen wearing 
green liveries braided with gold, wine butlers and others 
performed their duties with utmost dignity. Comptrollers, 
directors, the first carver, the head wine butler, saw to the 
perfect carrying out of the complicated manœuvres, and the 
multiple courses were served, washed down by numberless 
wines of infinite value, without a hitch. The private servants 
of their Majesties looked the acme of dignity as they saw to 
the wants of their Imperial masters." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 187 

event, such as a Court mourning, stayed the on- 
rush of pleasure. "I am still remaining a week 
at Compiègne," wrote Mérimée. " To-day the 
Germans, De Metternich and Count de Goltz, 
are expected. They are anything but cheering. 
Let us hope that the death of the King of 
Denmark may spare us the lavish toilettes and 
the waltzes of the ladies." Each day after lunch, 
at about 1.30, the brakes, driven by powdered 
postillions, with out-riders covered with silver 
bells, drove up to the terrace of the Castle, there 
to await the guests. The party often drove to 
Pierrefonds, where the Empress watched the re- 
building of this ancient castle of the Middle Ages. 
Archaeology had become a passion with her, and 
she was spending millions in reconstituting history 
by its means. On her way there and back she was 
keenly interested in the conversation of Viollet- 
Leduc, to whom she had entrusted the task of 
transforming the superb ruins of Pierrefonds into 
a semi-feudal manor. With keen enthusiasm she 
would entertain her guests with the description of 
the elaborate feasts and receptions that she meant 
to give after 1868 in the halls of the valiant 
knights and graceful dames of Pierrefonds. Fate, 
alas ! was doomed to interfere with her project ! 
The party always halted on the way, and as at 
Compiègne and at Fontainebleau, the Empress 
enjoyed an excursion on foot, regardless of the 



i88 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

weather. In walking she displayed both energy 
and strength, much-admired virtues by her suite, 
many members of which, however, would have 
been gladly spared the ordeal of following her. 

One afternoon, after a freezing rain had fallen 
for hours, she decided to go and meet the Emperor, 
who was out shooting. When she arrived, it 
was pouring. Undaunted, she walked through 
the wet grass, followed by her ladies in waiting. 
The ladies fired some shots into the covert, 
replete with pheasants, thanks to the game- 
keepers and beaters. Princess de Metternich 
displayed more zeal than skill, and those near her 
trembled lest her shots might miscarry. When 
these great feats had been accomplished, the party 
returned to tea at five o'clock. Next day, most of 
the guests suffered from heavy colds, but two days 
afterwards the Empress sallied forth on a similar 
errand, and in weather still more awful. 

After lunch the guests had seen the brake drawn 
up on the terrace, and they trembled at the pros- 
pect of another wetting. To their intense relief, 
the carriages were sent back, and those who did 
not favour a walking expedition in torrents of rain 
were happy once more. They felt they were their 
own masters, and forthwith proceeded to devise 
some pleasant means of whiling away the after- 
noon. Octave Feuillet, Gounod, Paul de Musset, 
Bida, had agreed to lock themselves up in the foyer 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 189 

of the theatre, where there was a piano. Gounod 
had promised not only to play but to sing the 
whole of Mozart's compositions, as well as his 
own. Due notice of the happy event had been 
sent to Madame de Montebello, who was passion- 
ately fond of music. She gave the word to 
Princess Poniatowska. The happy circle had 
foregathered in its cosy corner, heedless of the 
weather, when suddenly the Empress appeared 
in shooting costume, wearing a short hairy 
coat, a little Tyrolean hat, and carrying a 
thick walking-stick in one hand and an umbrella 
in the other. Behind her came four Scotch 
bare-legged lairds, to whom she had promised 
to show the shooting preserves. She insisted 
that all her guests should share this pleasure. 
They had to thank her for her thoughtfulness, 
and to follow her with a light gait and a pleasant 
smile under torrential rain, through the park and 
along the muddy roads. 

A Spaniard to the core, whose heart had been 
steeled from her childhood by the sight of the 
blood-stained bull-ring, she delighted in the 
spectacle offered by a stag-hunt. 

Luncheon was always served earlier on the days 
the hounds met, and the party left the Château 
before midday. The rendezvous was generally 
fixed on the border of the forest. The Imperial 
hunt was under arms, so to speak, mounted hunts- 



i 9 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

men wearing red cloth breeches and hats covered 
with gold lace. The whippers wore black shoes 
with silver buckles, so as to better run through 
the coppice. " The carriages of the invited guests, 
members of the nobility and gentry of the neigh- 
bourhood, formed a semicircle, facing the pack, 
while groups of Amazons and horsemen in uniform 
formed in the centre, a picture not unlike that of 
a hunt-meeting under Louis XV." 1 

It is needless to describe once more the merry 
band of huntsmen and hunting-women, clad in the 
traditional livery or wearing the green habit and 
three-cornered gold-laced hat, urged by cruel 
ardour upon the trail of the frightened stag. A 
picturesque sight, no doubt, but a cruel one was 
offered towards the fall of day by the maddened 
animal rushing into the pond of Saint- Pierre, with 
the savage dogs on its heels, while on the bank, the 
horsemen, the occupiers of the carriages, and those 
on foot witnessed the pitiful agony of the poor 
quadruped. This was what they termed a hot 
quarry. 

When the guests were not compelled to run 
through the woods to the strains of the hunting- 
horn, tea was served at five in the apartments of 
the Empress. All were not admitted to this inti- 
mate function, only those whom she wished to 
honour. Having been notified of the fact in the 
1 Emile Zola, Son Excellence Eugène Rougon. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 191 

morning by Mlle, de Larminat or by the future 
Countess Clary, they joined the personal friends 
of Eugénie, her standing guests on all occasions. 
To take tea with the Empress was a favour much 
sought after. It caused many heart-burnings 
among those whom the Mistress of the Household 
did not deem fit to honour. 

It was at these intimate gatherings that the 
Empress was fondest of displaying her conversa- 
tional powers. She would choose a subject grave 
or frivolous according to the mood of the moment. 
One afternoon the famous advocate Lachaud 
riveted the attention of all present with anecdotes 
of some causes célèbre. Her Majesty joined in 
the conversation, and related some curious details 
concerning the Duke and Duchess de Praslin. 
She had met the tragic couple at the Delesserts'. 
A few weeks before the murder, in the dead of 
night, the Duchess, on awaking suddenly, had 
seen, standing beside her bed, a cowled monk, who 
disappeared suddenly as she reached out her arm 
to ring the bell. " It must have been the Duke," 
said a dramatic author to the Empress ; " he was 
no doubt rehearsing the awful drama." Whether 
it was so or not, the fact remains that on the night 
of the murder all the bells had been cut. 

Now and again the Empress enjoyed a game of 
patience, and while playing she would talk at 
random. One afternoon the Marquis de Toulon- 



192 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

geon was helping her, while around her stood the 
keenly interested group. She proceeded to tell 
them that she often received letters from mad 
people, especially in March and December. 
Persigny, who had a fair experience in such 
matters, proceeded to supplement the Empress's 
anecdotes with some of his own. He observed 
that one of the most characteristic symptoms of 
the fixed idea, or insanity, was to underline the 
words of a letter, even the unimportant ones. 
The Empress, visibly concerned, exclaimed, "Pray 
do not say that. Are you sure it is a sign of 
lunacy ? I underline a great many words." 

" Your Majesty, it is only a symptom of the first 
degree of madness." 

"Yes; and I am sure that you have already 
reached the second and third," replied Her 
Majesty. 

Those present did not know exactly how to take 
the remark, and Persigny, whom the Empress 
disliked personally, seemed very much perturbed. 

At Compiègne there were many gloomy and 
moody hours, as gloomy as the weather during 
these autumn days. The afternoon was often 
spent aimlessly, sometimes devoted to childish 
pursuits, such as spilling ink upon a sheet of paper, 
folding it, and going into ecstasies upon the 
curious drawings that resulted from the stain. At 
other times ennui was warded off by innocent 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 193 

games such as crambo, little papers, or by the 
still more harmless game of dictation. Some one 
who had prepared a passage would dictate it to 
the assembled guests. Of course it contained 
most difficult words, and an amusing sight was 
afforded by eminent men of letters and scientists 
racking their brains to effect the proper spelling. 
The Emperor made innumerable mistakes, while 
the Empress did not even try her hand at the dic- 
tation. From her early childhood she had been on 
very bad terms with French orthography. On one 
occasion the prize was awarded to de Metternich, 
a foreigner ; again, Madame de Sancy-Parabère, 
lady in waiting to the Empress, won the day in 
this childlike competition. 

So for aught one might think, and notwith- 
standing the legend, the guests did not always 
enjoy their stay at Compiègne, at least not 
those among them who cared sufficiently for 
their reputation to follow the regulation pro- 
gramme of each day. As to the others, fast 
livers, coquettes, and heedless creatures little 
harassed by prejudices, they found plenty of 
means to cheat the official boredom of their 
stay. In the morning and at night, oftentimes 
in the middle of the day, assignations were kept, 
and pleasant hours whiled away under the reliable 
shadow of the old tree. 

In 1852 Eugénie had made her first appearance 



94 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 



at Compiègne as a guest. The following year 
she reigned there as Sovereign and mistress of 
the house. On the 16th October La Pkiliberte, 
a play by Emile Augier, was produced in the 
theatre of Compiègne by such artistes as Bres- 
sant, Lafontaine, and Rose Cheri. She followed 
the action of the play with the keenest interest ; 
and having complimented the author on his work, 
she asked him what she could do for letters — 
she who had just ascended the throne. " Your 
Majesty's task is a simple one," replied Augier. 
" You will best serve letters by loving them." 
The performances that took place were given in 
a large hall. It was deemed unworthy of its 
object, however, so it was decided to build a 
large and suitable theatre. It never served its 
purpose, because it was only completed after the 
fall of the Empire. The programme of the per- 
formances varied according to the vogue of the 
plays that were being enacted, or to the whims 
and tastes of the Emperor and Empress, who had 
to be satisfied in turn. Napoleon favoured light 
comedies and farces, while the Empress inclined 
towards romantic and melodramatic performances, 
displaying a great liking for the popular drama, 
clad in darkest hues. The companies of the 
Comédie Française and the Gymnase performed 
at stated dates at Compiègne, but there were also 
more intimate performances given there under 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 195 

the direction of the Princess de Metternich, an 
amateur actress of no mean merit. All the 
dilettanti at Court, the theatrical enthusiasts, 
were eager to take part in these amateur theatri- 
cals, so as to receive their share of plaudits and 
be complimented upon their performance by the 
prettiest lips in creation. Their pleasure became 
to them a duty and a task, and after many 
rehearsals, when thoroughly drilled and trained 
by Madame de Metternich, the society troupe of 
actors and actresses would beard the footlights in 
one of the large halls. The scenery and properties 
were provided by the Imperial storehouse, the 
stage manager was the famous architect Viollet- 
Leduc, while the list of artistes included such 
names as Pauline de Metternich-Sandor, the 
Marchioness de Gallifet, Lord Rothschild, 
Baroness de Poilly, Count Aguado, the Mar- 
quess de Caux, Viscount Fitz-James, Count de 
Solms, and the élite of the nobility. The 
Empress herself had played a part in the 
Portraits de la Marquise of Octave Feuillet. 
She gave his cue to Count d'Audlau, then in 
high favour and at the zenith of his power. 
Octave Feuillet, Mérimée, and Louis de Sauley, 
his amiable compeer, were the providers of mirth 
and fun, for they wrote short plays and invented 
charades for the company. Mérimée had just 
written a somewhat vivacious playlet for " Dona 



196 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Eugenia" entitled The Blue Room. He signed 
it " Mérimée, Jester to Her Majesty." Finding 
himself at Court without being a courtier by 
nature, he affected to complain of being compelled 
to talk or to play when he did not want to do so. 
In his letters he deplored having to wear short 
breeches or tight trousers, and being compelled 
to go to Mass on Sundays, he who could not bear 
priests, Jesuits, or the Pope. But he had to 
resign himself to these petty and menial deeds of 
serfdom. He was really attached to the Empress, 
and as he had to be at Court, owing to her wish, 
he tried to amuse others there as well as him- 
self. He devised or invented the drawing-room 
comedies, giving the cue to the theatrical dilet- 
tantism of the Duke de Morny, and if necessary 
playing a comic part himself. The brains and 
wit of Feuillet were requisitioned at all times, but 
he was never taken unawares, because before 
coming to Compiègne he provided himself with 
charades, short plays and "sainetes," or Spanish 
farces, which he had tested on his own family 
circle before producing them in the presence of 
their Majesties. It was natural that he should 
devote the best care to such work, because the 
Empress was never tired of giving him proof of 
personal affection and regard. She personally 
saw to his comforts during his residence at the 
Chateau, where his favourite apartments were 







LE DUC DE MORNY. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 197 

always kept for him. His windows gave on to 
the park. There the poet could dream for long 
hours, gazing upon the forest that lay half-hidden 
in the gilded mists of the morn, upon the marble 
gods, the arbours of leafy vine, and, in the dis- 
tance, upon the heights of Pierrefonds. So he 
performed his duties with zeal and eagerness. 
When plays and tableaux vivants were not the 
order of the day, the idle company resorted to 
dancing and to gossip. Jeux d'esprit^ reparties 
and witticisms also provided food for fun. Under 
the presidency of the "lady of the house" the 
Sainte- Beuves, the Feuillets, the Mérimées had 
to uphold their reputations as conversationalists 
and men of wit. They had in Eugénie the best 
possible audience, but Napoleon preferred con- 
versations in a lighter vein, during which he could 
lavish compliments right and left upon the prettiest 
women of his Court. In this pursuit he never 
spared himself. He would sit with this one or 
with that one, charming them all in turn with 
amiable sayings that helped him at the same time 
to satisfy his gallant inclinations. Every woman 
at Court was devoured by the keen desire to 
attract the attention of the Emperor, were it 
only for a moment. The most eager among them 
would change their seats five or six times so as 
to find themselves in his way. 

The Sovereigns usually retired towards mid- 



i 9 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

night. The guests were free to follow them or 
to remain in the drawing-rooms. As a rule, the 
ladies disappeared one by one, but often fore- 
gathered again in the apartments of one of the 
Princesses, where privileged coteries, unheeded 
and free from all restraint, enjoyed the delightful 
gossip of these over-flow meetings. 

In December the Court returned to Paris. 
Napoleon and his Consort once more occupied 
the Palace of the Tuileries, where etiquette 
claimed all its prerogatives. As soon as she 
returned to the capital, the Empress had to 
devote herself to preparing for the great State 
balls that were held in the winter. 



CHAPTER VII 

Ten years of a prosperous reign — Early political views ol 
Eugénie — How she acquired her firm hold upon the situation — 
The various reasons to which this was assigned — A few traits 
of her intimate life — The true cause of her sudden departure to 
Scotland, and, three years later, of her hurried journey to Bade 
— Compensations afforded to the Empress in atonement for the 
injuries done to the wife— The Emperor's journey to Algeria 
— A second regency — The Empress acquires the habit of 
governing — Criticisms caused by the active and personal part 
she played — The Empress and Prince Napoleon — The speech 
of Ajaccio — Refusal to propose a toast in honour of" the 
Empress — Other protests against her regency — How a letter 
from the Duke de Persigny to the Emperor, concerning 
the Empress, fell into her hands — Growing influences of 
Eugénie — Her two great political passions — The Roman 
question — Clericalism at the Tuileries and in Government 
circles — Failure of the proposed journey to Italy — Bad feel- 
ings caused by it — Another interview with Prince Napoleon 
— The Mexican dream — Period of fervour and enthusiasm — 
Curious features of this enthusiasm which was far from 
general — Her significant conversation in the drawing-room of 
Admiral Jurien de la Graviére — Bad news follows the announce- 
ment of victories — A period of pious retreat and ardent prayer 
— The climax — General feeling of the nation — Excessive 
sincerity of an official — " The Austrian woman and the Spanish 
woman" — Unpublished anecdotes — The lesson taught by 
events. 

For ten years the Imperial star had shone without 

interruption. It was the golden age of the second 

Empire, then at the height of its prosperity. It 

was the honeymoon of financial speculation, the 

happy time for all those who profited by continuous 

success. There was a vast concourse of foreigners 

in the French capital, who willingly spent their 
199 



2oo THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

money in exchange for the joys they found there. 
They were dazzled by this Parisian existence in 
which everything seemed to belong to Dreamland, 
seduced the eye and deceived the mind. More 
than ever was the Empress the recipient of homage 
and adulation. 

This did not satisfy her. To be a decorative 
sovereign whom the claws of time had not 
yet scratched, pleased her looking-glass but did 
not satisfy her self-pride. She yearned to prove 
herself possessed of more important gifts, to show 
that she was highly gifted as a politician. Her 
true friends would have wished to see her main- 
tain her brilliant and dignified position in a centre 
calm and serene, inaccessible to party strifes. But 
how could she have done so when her temperament, 
her imagination, her proud nature urged her to 
transform her impulses into active participation ? 
To direct the affairs of the State rather than 
participate in them was indeed the course she 
aimed at and the one she followed in more than 
one instance, with dire results to France and to 
herself ! 

The miraculous stroke of luck which had made 
her Queen was soon followed by Eugenie's first 
efforts in the political arena. They were tentative 
efforts that she indulged in, pending the day when 
she could boldly take possession of supreme power. 
From time to time, at her Monday at homes, 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 201 

she would broach the subject of politics, expressing 
her opinion on a given question with firmness and 
vivacity. She did so with all the more zest in the 
presence of representatives of the Corps Diplo- 
matique. Towards 1853 and 1854 Prince 
Jablonovski, the personification of an Austrian 
general and grandee, and Hiibner his fellow 
countryman, a subtle diplomatist, the acutest of 
men (with the exception of Metternich and Nigra), 
were often called upon to refute her sudden 
questions and her unforeseen attacks. The 
respective conditions of the different powers 
interested her keenly, though she discussed such 
grave matters without much sequence or prepara- 
tion, often indeed with levity. Austria, Italy, 
The Papacy and Spain provided her with subjects 
upon which she delivered her judgment that often 
went forth like a rocket. At times she would 
entertain her guests with her views upon the fate 
of Spain, foretelling a Spanish Revolution at no 
distant date, to be followed by the union of Spain 
and Portugal under the sceptre of the house of 
Bragnanza, a Union that was not to be. 1 

1 On the 13th September, 1853, Baron de Hiibner wrote as 
follows : The Empress was in a very chatty mood last night, 
especially when the Emperor, who was suffering from a head- 
ache, had to retire from the dinner-table. I reminded her of 
our dinner-party at the house of Gudin the painter, the day on 
which her marriage had been decided, and she spoke of Spain, 
foretelling a revolution for the following October and the 



202 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

On another occasion, shortly before it became 
known that diplomatic relations between Paris and 
Vienna had been broken off, she tookCount Hiibner 
to task with extraordinary vivacity, asking him 
point blank what were the intentions of his Govern- 
ment. She constantly acted under the impulse of 
her mind, intervening suddenly in a debate, in a 
discussion about to be closed, or criticizing a plan 
long matured by others but suddenly abandoned 
through her intervention. Thus, during the period 
of 1863, she thwarted the arrangements come to 
between the Government and the Press with a 
view to influencing the public mind by means of 
the latter. The elections of Paris were lost 
because she had chosen to favour certain in- 
dividuals, and in so doing to beard the Council of 
State. 

Nevertheless, she persevered in this direction, 
endeavouring more and more to cultivate tastes 
for serious pursuits as, in the course of years, she 
became less attached to the frivolous and dissipated 

doings of her Court. 

The Emperor afforded her full leisure for in- 
coming union of Spain and Portugal under the sceptre of the 
house of Bragnanza. This is, of course, the well-known device 
of the progressists. As a matter of fact they care little for the 
house of Bragnanza and are only aiming at a Republic. 1 )ona 
Eugenia's remarks were probably but the echo of Marsha] 
Harvaez, one of her intimate friends. I laughingly told the 
Empress that it would hardly pay her to become a progressist. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 203 

dulging in her new mode of life, because, gradually 
but surely, he saw less and less of her in private. 
He loved her and yet neglected her. This was 
common knowledge. Though profoundly attached 
to his wife and child, constancy was by no means 
a virtue of his. His wandering instincts, his 
desire to explore fresh fields of affection, were 
amply provided with opportunities to which 
stronger men might easily have yielded. Was he 
a victim of personal weakness, belated sentimental- 
ism or prolonged curiosity ? Be that as it may, it is 
but fair to say that he was not alone responsible 
for the number or the excess of his gallant adven- 
tures. More than ever he was obliged to yield 
willingly to certain attacks that were driven home 
with vigour. On one occasion, when dining with 
Princess Bacciochi in Brittany, he said, " As a 
rule man attacks ; I have to defend myself and 
often to capitulate." 

He did not have to throw down the gauntlet, 
it was snatched from his hand. The most seduc- 
tive women courted his caprice with a provocative 
audacity that was scarcely veiled by a thin 
remnant of worldly delicacy. They were well 
aware of his natural inclinations. 1 He was will- 

1 " Napoleon has been described as the prototype of the 
libertine in Les Liaisons Datigerenses ; he was in truth a Werther " 
(Arsène Houssaye). We do not subscribe to this statement 
of the author of Les Grandes Dames, satisfied as we are 



204 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

ingly led away, though he should have fought 
against temptation, for he rapidly wasted both 
physical strength and moral energy in the sensual 
pursuit of pleasure. He seemed to ignore the 
fact that at a certain age one should beware of the 
aftermath of love. If he was duly cognizant of 
the dangers of revivification and resuscitation, he 
paid little heed to them. 1 He was weak with 
women, and wavering with men. 

There were many differences between their 
most Christian Majesties, caused, no doubt, by the 
Emperor's indiscretions. 

Clouds foregathered and their collision resulted 
in severe storms. With a nature so despotic as 
his, Napoleon I would soon have silenced all 
such jealous fears. He would not have taken 
the trouble to defend himself, but feigning one ot 
his violent outbursts of temper, which never 
reached beyond his throat and therefore never 
affected his brain, he would have thus addressed 
his forsaken Consort : " You must submit to my 

that his ever transient intrigues were tinged with a modicum of 
delicate feeling. 

In the midst of women, he unremittingly sought " The 
Woman." 

1 " I do not think you have been accurately informed about 
Monsieur's (the Emperor's) health. He is very active and 
obeys his doctor's orders. His one weakness is his excessive 
affection for petticoats, a dangerous complaint in a young man 
of /lis years." (Mérimée, Le/Sers to J'anizzi. 27th October, 
1S64.) 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 205 

will, and be content to see me obtain some relaxa- 
tion where and how I choose. I am above all 
other men and cannot be dictated to by you or 
any other human being." Napoleon III was 
not possessed of this despotic spirit. He pre- 
ferred to bow his head under the vehement 
reproaches of the woman whom he deceived but 
also loved. Calmer times followed periods ol 
storm and conjugal peace was once more restored, 
until yet another excursion to the land of Cythera 
rekindled the flames of uxorious wrath. Her 
honour, her personal dignity, if not her love, were 
wounded by the volatile behaviour of her husband, 
and the knowledge of his many love caprices. 

Her sudden departure for Scotland in the 
autumn of i860 seemed more like a flight, for she 
was accompanied only by the Princess of Essling 
and Madame de Sauley. It was one of the very 
few incidents that afforded the public a glimpse of 
the stormy relations that at times existed in the 
Imperial menage. These painful relations were, 
however, within the knowledge of all who between 
i860 and 1863 frequented the Tuileries, Saint 
Cloud, Compiègne and Fontainebleau. The 
sudden arrival of the Empress, in November 
i860, had caused universal surprise in London. 
This journey, in no way foreseen, was much 
commented upon. Some said it was due to the 
delicate state of her health, which had been severely 



2o6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

shaken by the recent death of her sister, the 
Duchess of Alba, and that she was going to 
Scotland for change of air. 

The journey to Schwalbach in 1863 was really 
undertaken on account of her health, as she had 
been suffering for weeks from sore throat and 
vomiting. Endless silly explanations were vouch- 
safed for this trip, but some of those put forward 
rested upon a substratum of truth. It was said 
that shortly before her departure, the Empress had 
called upon one Marguerite Boulanger, the beau- 
tiful and impudent mistress of the Master, and 
had asked her not to remain in residence at Mont- 
retout, as it was too painful to behold her 
villa from the windows of St. Cloud. The fact 
remains that there is no lack of concordance 
between what was stated and what really 
occurred. 1 

Mental troubles, caused by the ill-concealed levity 
of her husband's conduct, aggravated the nervous 

1 Let us read between the following lines penned by Mérimée 
to Madame de Montijo — 

" wth October, 1S64. 

" Before my departure from Paris, last Friday, I saw my 
friend from Biarritz. I had a few hours' conversation with her, 
and you can readily guess the subject of it. She felt she 
wanted to unburden herself. The whole thing is very sad, even 
more so than you can imagine, but do not breathe a word about 
it. I think I have given good advice, without forgetting the 
proverb : ' Do not put your finger between the tree and the 
bark,' but I do not know that my advice has been followed." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 207 

affection of the stomach from which she suffered. 
She was advised to take the waters at Schwalbach, 
in the idyllic duchy of Nassau, which had not 
been absorbed by the Prussian conquest. 

German watering-places were then much fre- 
quented by French tourists and invalids. 

At 8 o'clock, on the evening of the 5th of Sep- 
tember, she left St. Cloud by the Imperial train, 
which met her in the very centre of the Park. 
Had it not been for the vibration, she might well 
have imagined that she still occupied her own 
apartments. The walls of the saloon were covered 
with tapestry, and the whole furniture upholstered 
with variegated satins, while the ceilings of the 
Imperial carriage were covered with white moiré 
silk. Thus did the Countess of Pierrefonds cross 
the eastern frontier. 

It had been arranged that she should preserve 
a semi-incognito under this name, which would 
enable her to avoid the fatigue entailed by State 
ceremonials. During her stay at Schwalbach, the 
Empress refrained from appearing at official or 
public ceremonies. 

Eugénie prolonged her stay beyond the period 
fixed by the medical faculty. She lived in seclu- 
sion, refusing all invitations, royal or princely, and 
ignoring the urgent requests of her own friends, 
who eagerly asked her to return to Paris. "They 
say that all the telegraph wires on land and at sea 



2o8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

are conveying to the Empress the urgent suppli- 
cations of her friends to return to Paris " (Xavier 
Doudan, October 17th, 1863). She returned in her 
own time, having duly decided upon the line of 
conduct she meant to follow. She would remain 
the faithful companion and the Sovereign, but 
henceforth Eugénie would cease to be. Hence- 
forth there would only be an Empress in her. 
Napoleon, who loved his wife, wanted peace and 
tranquillity above all things, and lived in dread of 
the fits of jealousy and offended dignity to which 
his conduct so often gave rise. A great friend of 
his explained this to a writer in the following 
terms — 

" The Emperor has such a dread of noise 
and worry in his house, that he would set fire to 
the four corners of Europe in order to avoid one 
of those family scenes caused by his infidelity." 

Urged somewhat by contrition, somewhat by 
lassitude, and also by weakness, he conferred 
upon the Empress a large amount of authority 
and the right to interfere in public matters, thus 
compensating her for the losses she suffered 
through his lack of constancy. Eventually 
Eugénie took a very serious view of the part 
she had to play. She yearned for the opportuni- 
ties of proving herself possessed of virile 
qualities, she who had so long been reputed a 
giddy and amiable woman. Sceptics expressed 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 209 

their doubt as to the efficacy of these good inten- 
tions. Had they been questioned as to the 
political capabilities of the Empress, they would 
willingly have proffered the answer made by 
Count Gortschakoff when asked what he thought 
of the statesmanlike qualities of a famous woman 
under the third republic, — " Madame Adam has 
very fine shoulders." 

Eugénie had a high opinion of her moral 
individuality. She contracted the habit of 
speaking, advising, and acting politically. At 
the meetings of the Council she endeavoured 
to remain silent. When she did intervene in the 
discussion, she spoke with moderation and gave 
her advice in measured terms. This tranquillity 
was of short duration. Her natural exuberance 
soon asserted itself in vivid expression and, break- 
ing through all bounds, she was wont at times to 
go to extremes, becoming impassioned on such 
questions as interested her, though at times she 
predicated sensible solutions that were adopted 
with good results. 

She was no more the young woman of former 
days thirsting for worldly adulation and frivolous 
enjoyment. She had become a woman of experi- 
ence absorbed by public questions which she could 
assimilate if she could not understand. She dis- 
played much ability in discussing them, and much 
self-confidence and courage in upholding her 



2to THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

views, however misdirected. The Emperor, on 
the other hand, a prey to the invading malady 
that brought about his end, exhibited little 
energy, and gave but intermittent signs of strong 
will. She did not attempt to weaken the 
authority of the Emperor, but she felt that both 
her intelligence and her status gave her the right 
to co-operate in his work. Napoleon III had 
not reached that degree of physical decrepitude 
which later on urged Eugénie to govern her 
husband and to govern France through her hus- 
band. Gradually personal opinions were formu- 
lated in the mind of the Empress, opinions that 
were heeded, applauded, and followed, though 
they were not always shared by the Emperor. 

Two currents were thus formed, two parties 
called into existence at Court, that of the Emperor, 
and that of the Empress. The latter was com- 
posed of ambitious and energetic men, whose one 
desire was to set up a second power against the 
existing one. 

At first there was no flagrant signs of the true 
condition of affairs. Napoleon had just conferred 
upon Eugénie the most striking proof of his con- 
fidence on the eve of his departure to Algeria, 
whither he had repaired as an invalid as well as in 
his official capacity. For the second time he had 
appointed her Regent of his Empire during his 
voyage, which was undertaken mainly with a view 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 211 

to obtaining relief from sufferings that had become 
acute. He did not only confer upon her the pre- 
rogatives of this temporary power. He had thought 
it wise and prudent, owing to circumstances that did 
not call for such precautions, to assure her complete 
preponderance. To that effect he drew up the 
following will, that was not doomed to be repeated 
a second time — 

" I recommend my son to the great bodies of 
the State, to my people and to my Army. The 
Empress Eugénie is possessed of all the qualities 
needed to ensure an efficient regency." 

When he left she did not urge him to curtail his 
absence from Paris. He proceeded as far as the 
desert, receiving everywhere proofs and testimony 
of full submission from the Arab chiefs, who 
bowed before him as though he were a glorious 
son of the Prophet, and not the leader of those 
Christians whose invasion of their country in 
bygone times had wrought so much havoc in their 
midst. He enjoyed his triumphant progress, and 
apprised his consort of the fact, describing to her 
how, on the confines of the Sahara, large ostriches 
and whole oxen were served up for his dinner. The 
picturesqueness of the country and its inhabitants, 
the warm caresses of the sun spreading its dazzling 
rays upon the scenery, the transparency, the depth 
of the Algerian sky, all helped to create the best 
impression in Napoleon's mind. It was that of 



2i2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

two civilizations living side by side in each other's 
grasp, inoculating one another without, however, 
losing any of their distinct characteristics or suffer- 
ing mutual absorption. The one represented the 
most enduring traditions of the East, while the 
other exemplified all the movement and conquer- 
ing expansion of modern life. He was happy to 
linger in a country so full of interest, the while 
Eugénie indulged the height of her ambition by 
governing in his absence. Save for minor incidents 
connected with the cab strike, when she took upon 
herself to replace the strikers by drivers of the 
Army Service Corps, nothing of importance oc- 
curred during this regency. Its peace was only 
broken by an ill-advised speech delivered by 
Prince Napoleon at Ajaccio in May 1865. The 
naughty boy of the house of Bonaparte advocated 
therein a policy in direct contradiction to that of 
the Emperor and the Empire. " The Empress 
is severely blamed," wrote Mérimée, " for not 
having rebuked him more sternly." 

She displayed, however, a considerable amount 
of annoyance as soon as she became aware of the 
seditious harangue. She forthwith apprised the 
Emperor of it, and forbade the official organ, 
the Moniteur, to publish it. The Empress's dis- 
patch was handed to Napoleon in the midst of his 
Algerian followers. He frowned, crumpled the 
paper, and withdrew at midnight. He summoned 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 213 

de Gallifet : " You must leave immediately for 
Paris ; here are two letters, one for the Empress and 
one for Prince Napoleon. Please deliver them per- 
sonally into the hands of those to whom they are 
addressed. Inform Her Majesty that I have 
had a splendid journey and will return next 
week." 

" If His Imperial Highness questions me, what 
shall I answer ? " said de Gallifet. 

"Tell him to go and hang himself." On his 
arrival in Paris Gallifet got into uniform, rushed to 
the Palace, and handed the Empress the Emperor's 
letter to his Consort. She was still quite upset 
by the ill-advised action of the Prince, who had 
ordered four hundred thousand copies of his 
speech to be printed and circulated when he 
heard that the publication was suppressed in the 
Moniteur. Such a scandal must be averted. 
De Gallifet had not a moment to lose. He flew 
to the Palais Royal. The aide-de-camp on duty, 
Colonel Ragon, received the letter, and requested 
de Gallifet to wait while he bore it to the Prince, 
whose instructions he would take. His Royal 
Highness was busy, and for over an hour the 
turbulent de Gallifet had to mark time. At last, 
Jérôme consented to receive the Emperor's Envoy, 
whom he greeted with the following words : 
" I did not think the Emperor harboured such 
affection for me as to send you all the way from 



2i 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Algiers to enquire about my health. I am pro- 
foundly touched by such a delicate attention." 

" Your Imperial Highness has received a letter, 
of which I was the bearer. What shall I say to 
the Emperor ? " 

" Tell him to go and hang himself." 

On his return to Algiers Colonel de Gallifet 
reported upon his mission. 

" Did my cousin give you no message for me ? " 
said the Emperor. 

" None, your Majesty," replied the Colonel. 

Meanwhile the Moniteur Officiel had published 
the Imperial letter brought from Algiers to the 
Tuileries, and France was apprised of the severe 
chiding that had been administered to Jérôme. 
He gave vent to his rage, stormed at leisure, but 
soon consoled himself. 

Though the Empress could obtain no influence 
over the undisciplined cousin of her husband, she 
acquired considerable influence in other quarters. 

" She is far too hot-headed," said one quiz, 
" ever to make a Regent like Blanche de 
Castille." 

While the Emperor remained among the Ka- 
byles, administering his affairs from afar, his 
Ministers felt bound to acquaint the Regent with 
all the instructions they received and carried out. 
As a mark of deference they met in her apart- 
ments, and there kept her duly informed on all 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 215 

important matters, upon which they constantly 
took her advice. She was treated as a State 
personage, not only during the Emperor's 
absence, but after his return. 

Such a course could not meet with universal 
approval. Many censors in her immediate sur- 
roundings deemed the task allotted to her far too 
heavy. The members of the I mperial family, notably 
Prince Napoleon, whose words always expressed 
his feelings, and the Highnesses of the first and 
second degrees still enjoyed the various distrac- 
tions and entertainments at Court, but in a some- 
what dull and sulky mood that testified to their 
aloofness from the Empress. A flagrant proof 
of this spirit had been afforded two years pre- 
viously, during one of the autumn receptions at 
Compiègne. 

The 15th of November is of course the day 
consecrated in the Catholic calendar to the name 
of Eugénie. On that particular 15th of Novem- 
ber, as dinner was nearly over, the Emperor 
asked Prince Napoleon to say a few words in 
honour of the Sovereign whose feast day it was. 

No sooner was this request made than the 
Prince's clean-shaven face was distorted by a 
grimace, though of course he had not been 
taken unawares. The Empress smilingly said 
to him that she feared his eloquence as much 
as she appreciated it, but for some futile reason 



2i6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

he declined to avail himself of the honour con- 
ferred upon him. All the guests had risen to 
their feet, awaiting in silence the delivery of 
the speech, and little knowing what was hap- 
pening in the Imperial group. Prince Jérôme 
Napoleon had given as his reason his inability 
to speak in public, though his abundant and 
powerful elocution was of universal knowledge 
The Emperor repeated his request. 

11 Do you not wish to propose the health of the 
Empress ? " 

" If your Majesty will kindly excuse me, I 
prefer not to do so." 

Cut to the quick, the Emperor turned to 
Joachim Murat and asked him to replace his 
cousin. Prince Joachim proposed the toast, and 
the guests left the table suffering from a feeling 
of discomfort which they could not disguise. 

It was little surprising that, feeling so little 
affection towards his august cousin, Prince Napo- 
leon should have little sympathy with the zeal 
she displayed in governing the nation. He 
accused her publicly of being responsible for the 
abortion of the Italian policy. 1 

This was not his only grievance, for where she 

1 After Villafranca she would have liked to see the creation 
of a Confederation, the effect of which would have been to 
leave Victor Emmanuel in possession of the North of Italy, 
the King of Naples master of the South, and the Sovereign 
Pontiff in possession of the centre. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 217 

was concerned every fashion was a fault. Less 
hostile minds, trusted partisans of imperialism were 
alarmed at the dangers threatening the Govern- 
ment and its calm and measured policy through 
the neurotic and blundering actions that are 
invariably born of the feminine mind. The faith- 
ful Persigny, who many times had sorely tested the 
personal sympathy of Napoleon III by the brutal 
frankness of his advice and admonitions, had had 
the courage to send the head of the State a long 
report upon the grave disadvantages of divided 
power. For many years Persigny 1 had deplored 
the successive failures of French diplomacy in the 
affairs of Poland, of the Roman states, and of 
Denmark. He ascribed such failures to the 
influence of Eugénie. While casting no blame 
upon her personality as a Sovereign he deprecated 
her presence at the Council of Ministers. He 
contended that it set up one policy against another, 
by creating dual control in the State. The one 
policy was bound to annul the other and, in his 
opinion, to prove an incentive to intrigues and 
a source of grave uncertainty. Would it not be 
wise and prudent, if not necessary, to adhere to 
the unity of Government ? How could this be 
effected if both the internal and external enemies 

1 Persigny had been Home Secretary in 186 1. A somewhat 
fantastic individual, he was honesty personified, and had the 
courage to serve his Emperor without ever flattering him. 



2i8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of France were provided with formidable weapons 
by the active part played in State matters by the 
Empress ? Persigny had dared to express these 
convictions and to embody them in a report 
addressed to the Tuileries from his private estate 
of Charmarande. The Duke had hoped that his 
letter would be delivered into the hands of the 
Emperor, and that its contents would not be made 
known to her who provided the subject-matter of it. 
Unfortunately, the dangerous document fell under 
the eyes of the Empress. The Emperor was con- 
fined to bed, and at his bidding she opened his cor- 
respondence, among which was the famous epistle. 
It is easy to surmise the impression produced 
by it upon the impetuous character of Eugénie. 
She had not forgotten that Fialinde Persigny had 
offered the most strenuous objection to her marriage 
with Napoleon III. This fresh wound revived 
her old resentment. Acting under the impulse of 
spite and anger, she declared that as the proof 
given by her of her devotion to public welfare 
was interpreted as a source of evil and danger, 
she would not again appear at State Councils. 
This announcement was made in such a way, how- 
ever, that the Emperor, as a dutiful husband, had 
to combat his wife's expressed desire for retire- 
ment and self-effacement. He urged her not to 
persevere in this course, and laid the whole blame 
of the matter upon the audacious Counsellor. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 219 

Without attempting to answer or refute the main 
arguments propounded by Persigny, he replied to 
him in his own handwriting that the attendance 
of the Empress at Cabinet meetings was fully 
justified, as it was necessary to initiate the 
eventual Regent into the knowledge of State 
matters. A second letter soon followed, the eight 
pages of which were in the close and nervous 
handwriting of the Empress herself. She denied 
with the utmost energy that there had been 
any interference on her part in the events of the 
past, though she declared herself ready to assume 
responsibility in the future in order to relieve the 
Emperor of State cares. She would refrain, how- 
ever, from setting foot in the Council Chamber, 
since her best intentions had been misunderstood, 
and henceforth events would prove, she added, 
whether her presence there had been beneficial or 
not. For how many days or weeks did she really 
mean to remain in retirement ? As long, no doubt, 
as her good intentions prevailed. Very soon after 
this renunciation Napoleon III informed the 
late companion of his adventures that he could 
not consent to the continued absence of the 
Empress from the Council Chamber, as it would 
undoubtedly give rise to ill-natured comment. 
He therefore insisted on her attending Cabinet 
meetings. In no other instance did the personal 
influence of Eugénie upon the mind and will of 



22o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

the Emperor assert itself in so peremptory a 
manner as in all the details of this incident. By 
means direct and indirect, she brought her 
influence to bear upon all matters of importance. 
But two unfortunate and obstinate passions as- 
serted themselves in her throughout her life ; the 
defence of the temporal power of the Head of the 
Catholic Church (who was, in her mind, the direct 
and living image of Christ), and the expedition of 
Mexico, which she considered as a far-off revenge 
wrought in behalf of the land of her birth. 

She took little interest in matters external con- 
nected with such parts of the world as had not 
been included in her political education. The 
affairs of Egypt, Roumania or Greece, the pro- 
gressive growth of Prussia's power in Germany 
did not arrest the attention of Eugénie in the year 
1866. She was completely absorbed by all 
questions appertaining to Rome and Italy. 

At the outset her spirit of ultramontanism differed 
widely from the Emperor's views. His keenest 
desire had been to put a stop to the occupation 
by French troops of the pontifical states. Twice, 
in 1 86 1 and in 1862, he had thought of with- 
drawing his troops, and would have done so had he 
not been threatened by Garibaldi. In the summer 
of 1863 he took advantage of the absence of 
Eugénie at Schwalbach and summoned General 
Menabrea to Vichy in order to settle the conditions 




s. "S- 



ITY 



SITY I 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 221 

of the evacuation with the Envoy of Victor 
Emmanuel. Then began his customary ter- 
giversations. Pius the Ninth's Nuncio and the 
clerical party at Court had begun their campaign. 
He therefore found it difficult to uphold temporal 
power and then forsake it. Eugenie's constant 
efforts to counterbalance his personal sympathies 
afforded ample explanation for the vacillation of 
his decisions. He invoked political reasons and 
his own positivism. She extolled religion and its 
laws. While he declared that he was particularly 
anxious to ensure the success of the Italian 
Revolution, she upheld on high the banner of the 
Catholic cause. 1 The intervention of the Empress, 
formerly intermittent and rare, became more and 
more frequent. The Roman question absorbed 
her daily, and her zealous efforts to secure the 
maintenance of the integral authority of the Pope 
were warmly applauded by the ultramontanes. 
Political men like Buffet, who were generally 
deemed possessed of sagacious and tempered 
minds, re-echoed the sentiments of the Empress, 
declaring that any decrease of the territory of 
Pius IX would cause a European catastrophe. 
Foreign diplomatists played her game and urged 
her not to give way. Among them were her 

1 Mérimée said that the Pope and Garibaldi should have 
been compelled to fight their battle in a closed ring, because 
they were as dangerous and as bigoted one as the other. 



222 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

intimate friends the Ambassador and the 
Ambassadress of Catholic Austro- Hungary. If 
Napoleon and his consort had not the same 
reasons for affording protection to the Holy See, 
the result was the same, the effect identical. Pius 
IX remained Pontiff and King. " For a short 
time," says Bauer, in his manuscript notes, " the 
imperial couple was spared the storms that fre- 
quently were caused by the Roman question, 
storms overheard through closed doors by many 
courtiers ever on the qiri-vive." 

This costly, equivocal and ill-assured protectorate 
had weird results. It satisfied none in the very 
country upon which it was imposed. On the one 
hand, the Ministers of Victor Emmanuel were irate 
at this continual interference from without in the 
affairs of the peninsula. On the other, the out- 
and-out partisans of pontifical sovereignty deplored 
the lack of energy among its supporters who dealt 
but in words, measuring their means of defence and 
gradually curtailing them. It was pontifical Rome 
that spoke in 1866 the following words of prophetic 
anger against Napoleon III — 

" Napoleon deserts Pius IX and leaves Rome. 
May God be blessed ! We shall soon witness the 
funeral of the Second Empire. Its obituary notice 
is already written and can be divided into three 
parts : Germany, Mexico, Rome. Germany and 
Mexico point to the eclipse of the military glory 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 223 

of Bonaparte, while Rome foretells that of Catholic 
traditions which can never be forgotten by France. 
Napoleon will soon be enveloped in darkness. It 
will overtake him before the night has come. 
How can France continue to tolerate the deeds 
of this magnanimous man who is always retiring 
before danger ? Fearing Russia, he retires from 
Poland. Fearing needle guns, he retires from 
Germany. The fear of the United States drives 
him from Mexico, and he withdraws from Rome, 
terrified by Orsini, Mazzini and the Revolution. 
Two things seem very certain in the present 
uncertainty, the eventual victory of the Pope-King 
and the final downfall of the Empire. On the 
1 8th June, 1816, as some one reminded Bonaparte 
that it was the anniversary of the Battle of 
Waterloo, he exclaimed, ' An incomprehensible 
battle made up of a concourse of fatalities.' And 
covering his eyes, he added, ' Everything failed 
when everything had succeeded.' Let Napoleon 
III prepare for a similar fate. To him will also 
come a great day of reckoning, and he will have to 
repeat the words of the founder of his dynasty, 
' Everything failed when everything had suc- 
ceeded.' Rome is fatal. It shall be fatal to the 
Second Empire as it was to the First." 

The Empress did not hesitate. She had 
thrown her whole soul into the Roman question, 
and on it she staked her all. When the Emperor 



22 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

wanted to liquidate a situation as difficult as it 
was ill defined, one that did not even beget the 
gratitude of the papacy which never thought itself 
sufficiently defended, when he sought a way out, 
some compromise, Eugénie would warmly plead 
the cause of Pius IX. She reminded her husband 
that he had pledged his word to stand by the 
Pope, and was relentless in her efforts until she 
had regained all the lost ground. Napoleon Ill's 
instructions to his diplomatic agents once more 
were couched in firm language. He declared 
that in accordance with the Convention of the 
15th September he was compelled to withdraw 
his troops, but that he meant nevertheless to 
remain on the alert, ready to uphold the temporal 
power by every means. It was thanks to the 
influence of the Empress and to his Minister 
Drouyn de Lhuys that in October 1862 he had 
refused to foster the hopes of the Italians in 
favour of the occupation of Rome. Those en- 
dowed with common-sense and foresight conceived 
a very different idea from the following letter 
which he wrote with joy to his friend Arése, the 
chosen intermediary. These are the words he 
penned under the foliage of the secular trees in 
the park of Saint-Cloud : " I wish it to be known 
that in so far as the Roman question is concerned 
I shall not yield one inch. While I am decided 
to give effect to the Convention of the 15th 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 225 

September I shall not allow the temporal power 
of the Pope to be prejudiced or violated in any 
way." The servile band of Court officials and 
politicians applauded the Empress while in the 
name of Heaven and in that of the Pope she 
worried the Emperor and perturbed the minds 
of his subjects. As Mérimée observed : " All the 
senators had become Capuchin monks. Even 
the women whose private lives were open to our 
criticism swam in the waters of ri~ ,r otion and 
piety." As a fervent Catholic, Eugénie was 
radiant. Meanwhile clouds of anger foregathered 
at the Court of Florence, and the obstinate and 
aged occupier of the Vatican, harassed by the 
advice of French diplomacy, did not express more 
satisfaction at the conduct of his protectors than 
at that of his adversaries. 

Eugénie was more sensible than any one to the 
complaints to and appeals of the Papacy. The 
day on which the French occupation ceased, and 
Montebello and his officers took leave of the 
holy Father, was observed by her as a day of 
mourning. 

The question of her visit to the Eternal City had 
been seriously discussed. It was a project which 
appealed immensely to her. General Fleury had 
been sent to Florence officially, to take the 
sense of the King of Italy and his Ministers upon 
the advisability of a visit to Rome, which was 



226 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

deemed most inopportune by the French Cabinet. 
Eugénie conceived that it would be interpreted 
as a proof, indirect but most significant, of the 
security that still was to be afforded by the 
Imperial Government to the Holy See. 

Napoleon's advisers discouraged the programme 
lest it might seem to be a disavowal of the evacua- 
tion of the French troops. The Emperor patiently 
awaited Fleury's letters, which were to throw 
full light on the situation. What would Victor 
Emmanuel and Baron Ricasoli think of it all? 
What would the Pope say? 

The forthcoming answer was not pleasant 
reading. As might well have been foreseen, the 
King gave a very lukewarm hearing to the pro- 
posal of this invasion of the Roman states. Pius 
IX, from whom liberal concessions had been 
expected as a fitting passport, had proved intract- 
able. While asserting his keen desire to receive 
the visit of the Empress, he sternly refused to 
countenance such reforms as those upon which 
the journey depended. Thus Eugénie had to 
postpone indefinitely the realization of a dream 
that she had nurtured for months. 

She remained more opposed than ever to the 
Italian influence, and the bad temper provoked by 
her failure found vent on every occasion. With 
her eyes turned towards Italy, where the antag- 
onism of Rome the capital and of papal Rome 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 227 

was being fought out, she followed every phase of 
the strife upon which she could not pass a judg- 
ment or offer any criticism. Under exceptional 
circumstances the King of Piedmont had delivered 
a speech in the Chamber of Deputies which, re- 
echoed beyond the Italian frontier, had awakened 
the attention of Europe. Eugénie had not found 
in this speech the formulas of complacency 
towards Pope and Emperor that she desired. 
She considered this harangue too proud and too 
presumptuous. Forgetting that since Solférino 
the relations between France and Italy had 
altered sensibly and that foreign friendships had 
interposed with a view to making the latter less 
dependent of the former, she had joked and 
jeered at the Royal utterance with much impru- 
dence. Dealing a straight thrust at Prince 
Napoleon, the terrible cousin Napoleon, son-in- 
law of Victor Emmanuel, and by no means her 
friend, she exclaimed point blank, " Have you 
read the last speech of your father-in-law ? 
What does he mean by referring to ' great feats 
effected in a short time ? ' Can this be an 
allusion to the great feats performed at Cus- 
tozza ? " 

" Madame, I am not responsible for the speeches 
of my father-in-law." 

Jerome Napoleon had skilfully avoided a diffi- 
culty, and the subject might well have been 



228 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

dropped, but the obdurate Empress would not 
desist. Driven at bay, the Prince added — 

11 1 would prefer a defeat like a Custozza, that 
wins a province, to a victory like that of Mexico, 
which cost an empire." 

The sting was keenly felt by the Empress, who 
bit her lip and turned away. 

The Mexican venture ? Why, she had thrown 
herself into it, heart and soul. She had had no 
part in the motives that caused the Crimean War. 
She was opposed to the war of Italy, the conse- 
quences of which she feared for the sake of the 
Pope. How had she come to encourage this 
hazardous enterprise with so much zest ? That in 
this matter she displayed a feverish enthusiasm 
is amply proved by the manuscript notes left by one 
of her faithful followers. He says : " I have often 
heard her say, ' The war of Mexico is my war.' " 
The same follower witnessed an incident, the 
details of which leave no room for doubt as to the 
extent to which that campaign interested her. 

A discussion had arisen between the Empress 
and a North American diplomatist. The un- 
erring coolness of the United States citizen con- 
trasted strangely with the heated animation of 
her who on that occasion acted more like a 
Mexican patriot than as the Empress of the 
French. The pitch of the conversation had be- 
come so high that it bordered upon an altercation. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 229 

" Madame, the North will conquer. France 
will have to abandon her plan, and this war will 
have an unhappy ending for Austria." 

"And I assure you," replied Eugénie, "that if 
Mexico were not so far, and if my son were not 
still a child, I should wish to see him lead the 
French Army, whose sword is at present engaged 
in writing one of the finest pages of the history of 
the century." 

"Then, Madame, you may thank God that 
Mexico is so far and that your son is still a child." 

With prophetic foresight and sagacity, the 
American diplomatist had made an accurate 
prognosis and had truly judged the situation. 
Filled with ardour, the Empress frowned at him. 
Words of anger rushed to her lips, but the 
Emperor intervened and appeased the quarrel 
with an enigmatic smile. The belligerents were 
parted, but Eugénie harboured feelings of keen 
resentment against her outspoken guest. Neither 
he nor his charming daughters were ever asked 
to another " Monday At Home." 

Various influences were at work in the pur- 
suit of the Mexican dream, but they escaped 
the languid mind of Napoleon. He thought he 
directed the events of the world, but in reality 
he was the puppet of the ultramontane party — 
led by the Empress — and of some wealthy men 
like Morny, who speculated on their own account 



2 3 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

upon the recovery by force of certain doubtful 
debts. With the pretence of obtaining a com- 
mercial and financial indemnity, an expedition 
had been equipped with the real object of founding 
in America an autocratic and Catholic monarchy, 
vassal of France, in the room of a liberal 
republic. Politicians had schooled Napoleon in 
the conviction that the United States were a 
menace to Europe, and that it would be wise to 
check their progress by means of a Latin power 
which would serve as a bulwark against their 
inroads. Eugénie was more carried away than 
any one in this direction. With all her might, 
with all her eagerness, she endeavoured to hasten 
the accomplishment of a daring plan. Thanks to 
her illusions, such a plan spelt glory without 
peril. From the moment she ascended the 
Imperial throne under such bewildering circum- 
stances her soul had never become detached from 
her native soil. She had remained the passionate 
daughter of the land of heroism, where all the 
expressions of thought, all poetic images, are 
couched in words of exaltation. The Spanish 
flame and sentiment vibrated in her as in the 
days of her youth. Her imagination enabled 
her to take part in the astonishing ventures which 
centuries ago had brought the blessed caravels of 
Hernando Cortes to the Mexican shores. When 
dreaming of these marvellous and legendary 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 231 

expeditions, she would close her eyes and thus 
avoid the sight of the ruin and devastation which, 
like a burning sea, marked the onward progress of 
conquerors, and swept away flourishing and happy 
countries in their wake. 1 

The early conquest, followed by cruel oppres- 
sion, had brought about the loss of the colony, but 
Eugénie dreamt of resuming the work thus inter- 
rupted, of effecting the resurrection of that Spain 
beyond the seas under the united flags of France 
and Mexico. Such great prospects were doubt- 
less seductive to a spontaneous nature like hers, 
which had not yet been tempered by reflection. 
Everything had been admirably ordained at 
Etioles, the property of Countess de Walewska. 2 

There, the Emperor and his Minister Walewski, 

1 " The Spaniards appeared on the scene. They threw them- 
selves on these happy districts hungering for prey and carnage. 
In the name of the gospel, in the name of a God of Peace, for 
days and months they killed, massacred and pillaged relent- 
lessly. Whole races were swept away. In a few years the 
Mexican and Peruvian civilizations were stifled and swept 
away, though they could trace their origin as far back in the 
dim past as Babylon and Niniva " (Frederick Loliée, Histoire 
des littératures comparées^ p. 200, 201). 

2 This historic demesne dated from the time of Madame de 
Pompadour, and was immortalized by Voltaire in his corre- 
spondence. It had been purchased by Walewski the Minister. 
There he was the host of the Empress. During her residence, 
a great display of fireworks was given on the lawn of the park, 
and on that occasion the Sovereigns presided at the public in- 
auguration of the bridge that leads to the station of Ivry- 
petit-Bourg. 



2 3 2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

with the Empress and Madame de Metternich, 
enjoyed to the full the happy vision, combining the 
details of a landing at Vera Cruz with the stages 
of a military march to the gates of Mexico, whose 
inhabitants were to sally forth to meet the 
conqueror. The benefits derived from this ex- 
cursion into one of the states of the new world 
were set forth at length. The wonderful climate 
of Mexico, the wealth of its soil, the abundance of 
its silver mines, and its wonderful situation between 
two oceans, were extolled by the quartette, to 
whom the dream had already become a reality, 
the phantom a prey. 

Eugénie was so elated that every one in her 
entourage feigned the same ardour, the same 
enthusiasm about Mexican matters. In the 
private apartments of the Tuileries, books and 
pamphlets concerning Central America and 
Mexico, written in different idioms, were 
strewn on every table. So much had this 
American literature imposed itself upon the Court 
that its effects were witnessed at even fancy 
dress balls. The surest way to gain favour 
with the Sovereign was to applaud this gener- 
ous project, known as the greatest of the 
reign. It was an opportune time for Mérimée. 
A sceptic in most matters, he treated the Mexican 
question at length, when corresponding with his 
friends, in that free and easy manner so becoming 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 233 

to a senator, a man of wit, satisfied with himself 
and his master, and who saw no earthly reason 
why a few thousand useless wretches should not 
be hanged or shot down. 

On the 21st August, 1863, he wrote: "The 
Archduke Maximilian has sent an eight-page 
letter to the Emperor. He accepts the latter's 
offer in terms that lack neither gratitude nor 
eloquence. It is said that things are progressing 
favourably in Mexico. Colonel Dupin has received 
orders to pursue the Juarist guerillas with African 
spahis and Mexican counter guerillas. He began 
as one should begin with such rabble, by hanging 
or shooting every man he caught. This course 
has met with the full approval of the natives, who 
are eagerly helping us as spies. In a very few 
months this man-hunt will render the country 
quite secure." General Forey stated in his 
proclamations that the war was waged so that 
the streets of Mexico might be illuminated at 
night. 

The inception of a reign, of an alliance, of a 
marriage, or of a foolhardy undertaking, is invariably 
bathed in dazzling- light, like that of the dawn of 
day. France was at that time imbued with the 
Mexican faith, but some maintained a prudent 
reserve, and did not dare to express their opinion 
quite frankly. They were wont to shake their 
heads ominously, fearing that Mexico might bring 



234 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

about a tragic end. Among such was Admiral 
Jurien de la Graviere. He spoke with authority, 
having been in command of the fleet and the 
landing party at the outset of the campaign. In 
the course of a dinner, at which several officials 
of high rank were present, the gallant sailor had 
beside him the Mexican Hidalgo (a warm favourite 
at the Tuileries), who had striven with all his might 
to secure the French intervention. When the 
expansive time for smoking had come, Jurien 
de la Graviere thought it befitting to address 
some words of sympathy to his guest, upon whom 
public attention was then riveted. 

" Now, let us speak of your country." 
" My country," replied the Hidalgo. " One word 
will express what I think of my country. Its 
name is spelt ' Chaos.' " 

On returning from the smoking-room to the 
drawing-room the admiral seemed distressed. 
The frank admission justified his own fears. He 
imparted them to the Abbé Bauer, and, knowing 
how much the Empress favoured him, he besought 
of the priest to use the whole weight of his 
eloquence in endeavouring to stop her on the 
downward grade, which, in his opinion, must lead 
France to a precipice. Bauer declined to inter- 
fere, adding that he would only compromise 
himself uselessly in so doing, but the admiral 
insisted upon his rendering this immense service 




MGR. BAUER. 









THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 235 

to the nation. The reason invoked was a powerful 
one, and the Abbé acted. The following day 
the Protonotary Apostolic was in the presence of 
the Empress. He related to her his patriotic 
fears, and was preparing to address to her his 
most ardent supplications when she stopped him 
short, saying, "How does this matter concern 
you ? " The conversation was thus abruptly 
ended. 

The optimists had every reason to congratu- 
late themselves upon the first tidings from 
the seat of war. In quick succession came the 
news of victories and triumphant bulletins. They 
had been received in various ways at the Castle. 
Ever faithful to his system, which consisted of 
being impenetrable, the Emperor observed pro- 
found silence, replete no doubt with deep thought. 
This silence, however, was really due to his sole 
desire not to have to speak. The Empress, on the 
other hand, displayed the fullest satisfaction. The 
young Prince Imperial felt very proud when he 
was told that the imperial eagles had won the 
day at Puebla. He drew sketches of soldiers, 
encouraged in this by General Forey. What 
more could be wished for ? 

But a short time previously his mother was 
travelling in Spain, full of hope and imagination. 
During many charming excursions which rekindled 
the memories of her youth she did not forget France 



236 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

in Mexico. She had given the child full proof of 
her joy in the first lines of the following letter, the 
original of which is in our possession — 

" My dear Louis, 

" I have thought a great deal of you since 
I left you, notwithstanding the pleasure I feel in 
being in my own country and in hearing my native 
tongue. On arriving at Cadiz, I saw French 
troops that were sailing for Mexico ; they seemed 
very happy." 

This trip to Spain had been decided upon quite 
suddenly during her stay at Biarritz in the autumn 
of 1863. 

A series of trips through the Iberian Peninsula 
was arranged in spite of the remonstrances of her 
followers and of timid friends, who trembled at 
dangers that did not exist. They had contended 
that election riots, and the restless spirit of the 
Spanish army might cause grave disturbances, 
owing to which she might compromise her name, 
her position, and her country. The circumspect 
Councillors went so far as to express their fears 
about a Press which had just obtained its inde- 
pendence. They said it might be abused with 
reference to the august traveller. Some of her 
intimate friends had openly opposed the idea of 
her journey. When she answered that she 
thought herself free to do what any private lady 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 237 

could do, they tried to prove to her that a great 
Sovereign had to bow and submit to reasons of 
a superior order, saying, " The King is less free 
and independent than any of his subjects." They 
assured her that they spoke words of wisdom 
when asking her to abandon her projected visit. 
She did not allow herself to be influenced by 
these chimerical apprehensions, and the journey 
took place under the happiest auspices. She merely 
passed through Portugal. In all the provinces of 
Spain her impressions were both vivid and varied. 
When riding in Andalusia, she adopted the 
national costume, the boléro trimmed with sequins, 
and the round hat with curled brims. The chron- 
iclers of fashion did not fail to notice that the use 
of the graceful boléro, so favoured by feminine 
taste, owed its inception to Eugénie. 

She was greeted everywhere with warmth and 
enthusiasm. Not a hitch occurred at Cadiz, 
Seville, Granada or Marseilles, through which 
she passed on her return to Paris. During her 
absence, events had forged ahead in Mexico. 
The roseate dawn of the early days had 
faded. The triumphant flourishes were soon 
followed by discordant notes, by news of a serious 
nature, by tidings of defeat and by cyphered 
dispatches of a grave nature. The abandonment 
of Mexico by Bazaine, the re-embarking of the 
French troops at Vera Cruz, and the investment 



238 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of Quéretaro, such were the consecutive items 
of news that reached the Palace. Instructions 
were given there that no sign of anxiety should 
be indulged in. These instructions were useless, 
because one and all betrayed signs of anguish. 
The Empress increased the number of her devo- 
tions, urged by her credulity and her tempera- 
ment. She ordered masses to be said, specifying 
that they should be offered up for the repose of 
the souls of both parties. She burnt numberless 
candles at the shrine of Notre-Dame des Vic- 
toires — which was rapidly being transformed into 
Notre-Dame des Défaites by those who invoked 
her. 1 

In the early hours of the morning, and in the 
strictest incognito, she partook of communion at 
frequent intervals, hoping, no doubt, that by such 
acts of piety she would induce Heaven to help 
the French and Austrian Catholics against the 
Mexican Catholics. She prayed with unremitting 
fervour, and spent many hours in meditation in 
her private oratory of the Tuileries. Masses, 
communions, candles, rosaries and supplications 
were of no avail. The shell burst, and its effect 
was all the more terrible as news had reached the 
Tuileries but a few hours before the execution 
of Maximilian, at Quéretaro, that his life would be 
spared. Napoleon and Eugénie were not the first 
1 Bauer's Memoirs. 






THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 239 

to receive the tidings. It had been hoped that 
the news could be kept from them until after the 
solemn distribution of awards of the Exhibition. 
But on the very morning of that day the Sovereigns 
were apprised of the fatal tragedy. Pale and 
undone, they were compelled to preside at the 
national Festival, and to acknowledge the applause 
and exclamations of the crowds. 

Rouher's defence of the Imperial policy could 
not hide the painful consequences, both political 
and financial, of the Mexican imbroglio. 1 

This bottomless pit had engulfed twenty-four 
millions sterling of the national Treasury's 
resources and twelve millions of the moneys 
subscribed towards the Mexican loan. On the 
8th October, 1867, Juarez was re-elected Presi- 
dent of the Mexican Republic. Order had 
been re-established in the different institutions 
of the country, and all that was left of the Imperial 
venture, prolonged in vain through the obstinacy 
of Maximilian, was his widow, an unfortunate 
Princess hurried away in the shades of lunacy, and 
his own corpse, riddled with bullets, borne back to 

1 " M. Rouher states that the French Eagle soars in clouds 
beyond our view and far above our vain prudence ; that it 
suddenly bears down on what seems to us a folly, pouncing 
upon a prey the value of which escapes us. He adds that the 
world is thus staggered. May I say that the world has good 
cause to be staggered ?" — Doudan's Letter to M. de 
Broglie. 



2 4 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

his native land, whence he had started full of 
youth and hope. 1 

The wound of Eugenie's heart was an enduring 
one. For many days she harboured her grief and 
solitude alone. None had access to her save her 
most intimate followers. Humiliation and de- 
spair bade her keep aloof from the Court. In a 
lamentable disaster she had witnessed the de- 
struction of her ambitious projects, the undoing of 
a plan so infallible in her opinion that it was not 
exposed to the smallest hesitancy on the part of 
Fate. The tricolour flag had had to yield before 
the star-spangled banner of the United States. 
She understood at last that the prestige of the 
Imperial Government had been rudely shaken. 
The tears she now shed were shed on account of 
the future as well as of the present. 

Eventually she decided to appear once more 
in the semi-publicity of the inmates of the palace, 
in the narrow circle composed of gentlemen and 
ladies in waiting. All who saw her were shocked at 
her appearance. She was clad in deep mourning ; 
her swollen features, her deep-sunk eyes, afforded 
ample testimony of her grief. But some months 
previously Eugénie, ill at ease and much perturbed, 
had received the visit of the Empress Charlotte, 
who had crossed the seas to come and remind 

1 "Never was an attempt against the right of nations so 
drastically punished." — Emile Ollivier. 




M. EMILE OLLIVIER. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 241 

Napoleon III of his promise not to forsake Maxi- 
milian. Charlotte then urgently pleaded for help 
that was sadly needed. 

It was during the first fortnight of August 
1866. Things were very dull at Saint-Cloud, for it 
was raining, and the Emperor complained that so 
few distractions were afforded him. The reappear- 
ance of the sun on the horizon was eagerly awaited. 
Instead of the fine weather it was the Empress of 
Mexico who arrived, and he had to perform the 
duties of hospitality towards her. His intimate 
friends, who, like Mérimée, were delighted at being 
able to dine in frock-coats without a vestige of 
etiquette, were much upset at the prospect of a gala 
reception being held in honour of Her Majesty the 
Empress of Mexico. " They will give her food," 
said Mérimée cruelly, " but I do not think she will 
obtain subsidies or troops." The poor Empress 
Charlotte had little leisure or opportunity to dis- 
cuss the subject of her visit. The painful circum- 
stances which attended her visit, the incident of 
the glass of lemonade, the sudden attack of mad- 
ness of Charlotte, and the permanent condition of 
insanity which visited the unfortunate Princess for 
ever, are incidents that have been related time and 
again. 

Eugénie was deeply affected, but, she had not yet 
drunk the cup of bitterness to its dregs. She had 
to sustain another conversation with the widow of 

Q 



2 4 2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Miramon, whom the Juarists had shot by the side 
of Maximilian. This young and beautiful woman 
had had the courage to follow the two victims on 
to the execution ground. It was most painful 
to listen to the harrowing details given to 
her of her husband's death. The Empress wept 
bitterly as she listened to Madame de Miramon, 
conjuring up in her mind the picture of the tragic 
deed. Two firing parties were commanded for 
the execution, one composed of practised marks- 
men, the other of recruits. As soon as Maximilian 
and Miramon stood before their executioners, the 
commanding officer bade the Emperor take up 
his position in front of the squad of veterans. 
This was a supreme concession to his exalted 
rank. Turning to his faithful lieutenant, Maxi- 
milian said, " I wish to give you one last proof 
of my friendship. Take my place, I insist upon it." 
Miramon obeyed, and the Emperor took up his 
stand before the rifles of the recruits. Miramon 
was killed on the spot, while Maximilian met with 
a long and painful death. He was butchered by 
the ill-directed bullets of Juarez' recruits. Juarez ! 
This name, pronounced by Eugénie with its 
Spanish accent, seemed to express immense 
contempt and undying hate. 

Dissatisfaction had become rife in France. It 
began to find vent in the daily Press, and the 
cause of it was duly assigned to her who had pro- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 243 

voked the war. On the morrow of the day when 
the news of Maximilian's death had become known, 
Hyrvoix, Chief of the Secret Police, was ushered 
into the Emperor's study at the usual early hour 
when he was wont to report to His Majesty upon 
the condition of public opinion. 

" What says the country ? " inquired the Em- 
peror. 

" The country says nothing, your Majesty." 
Hyrvoix' features betrayed anxiety, and his answer 
was hesitant. 

"You are not speaking the truth. What says 
the country ? " 

" Well, Majesty, since you command me speak, 
I shall do so unfeignedly. The nation is pro- 
foundly irritated by the consequences of this 
Mexican war. It is adversely criticized in terms 
of strong reprobation. Nay, its critics openly 
state that this misfortune has been caused by " 

" Caused by whom ? I insist upon knowing ! " 

" Sire," stammered the official, whose conscience 
urged him to speak the truth while prudence bade 
him be silent — " Sire, under Louis the Fifteenth, 
the fault was always laid at the door of the 
Austrian woman ! " 

" Yes ; well, go on ! " 

"And under Napoleon III they say that all 
this has been brought about by the Spanish 
woman ! " 



2 4 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

No sooner had these words been spoken in 
the calm atmosphere of the study where Hyrvoix 
thought he was alone with the Emperor, than the 
Empress suddenly appeared from behind the 
tapestry ; she had overheard the whole conversa- 
tion, and there she stood, shaken by anger, clad 
in a white dressing-gown, her beautiful hair 
floating on her shoulders. With one bound she 
sprang towards the man who had dared to repeat 
with so much frankness the statement that was on 
every lip. 

" Pray repeat, M. Hyrvoix, the words you 
have just spoken." 

Taken aback, Hyrvoix moved away, but he 
soon recovered his composure, and said — 

" Certainly, Madame ! Your Majesty will surely 
forgive me if I speak the truth ; it is my duty to 
do so, in obedience to the Emperor's expressed 
wish that he should be informed of the condition 
of the public mind after the sad event which has 
just occurred at Ouerétaro. I was telling His 
Majesty that the Parisians to-day are speaking 
of the Spanish woman in terms similar to those 
applied to the Austrian woman seventy-five or 
eighty years ago." 

" The Spanish woman ! The Spanish woman ! " 
she repeated, with teeth clenched. " I have 
become a French woman, but if needs be I shall 
indeed prove to my enemies that I can still be a 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 245 

Spanish woman ! " Having thus spoken, she 
disappeared, leaving the Chief of the Police awed 
and abashed. He apologized to the Emperor for 
having spoken thus. 

" You only did so in obedience to my wishes," 
replied Napoleon, as he grasped the hand of his 
subordinate. 

The approval of his master, thus expressed, did 
not prevent Hyrvoix from being dismissed a few 
days later. He was sent to the province of the 
Jura as Comptroller-General. The Empress had 
insisted that he should not again cross her path. 

The unvarying law of events carries within it 
a superior force, to which, sooner or later, the 
haughtiest must submit. The effervescence of 
an ambition betrayed by fate had now given way 
to inevitable regrets. The proud Spaniard had 
to confess her error, and also the full extent of her 
illusions. To one of those most keenly opposed 
to the Mexican campaign she said, " Why was 
your advice not needed? Had your counsels 
prevailed Maximilian would to-day be leading 
a happy life under the shades of Miramar, with 
Charlotte by his side. Instead of which he is but 
a corpse, and his poor Consort a raving lunatic. 
What a ghastly ending to it all ! " 

At intervals she would endeavour to control her- 
self and once again resume command of the situa- 
tion. She asserted that never had she desired to 



2 4 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

witness the abandonment of Maximilian. She 
justified her conduct, explaining what she would 
have done under similar circumstances — how, like 
him, she would have stuck to her post, fighting, 
resisting, as he had done, notwithstanding all 
defections. " No doubt we have made mistakes, 
but we should not be compelled to bear the burden 
of them alone, for others in Europe have their 
share of responsibility in this matter." Then, 
overcome with emotion and bathed in tears, she 
would add, "We seem to be besieged by misfor- 
tune. No sooner has one sad incident ended 
than we are confronted by another. If the 
Prince Imperial had reached the age of eighteen 
we would abdicate." 

Such a thing as the unforeseen does not exist in 
this world. The Mexican failure had only come 
to add its unfortunate consequences to the dis- 
astrous effect produced by Sadowa, the con- 
sequences of which shook France to her very 
foundation in 1866. Dark and threatening signs 
appeared upon the horizon, the unmistakable 
forerunners of a future fraught with danger. The 
most devoted supporters of the Empire could 
not be deceived when after witnessing such 
glorious times, they recalled the memory of 
its rapid decline. Twenty years later Field- 
Marshal Canrobert spoke thus of the events 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 247 

of 1870 and of the causes to which they were 
due — 

"Mexico! Mexico!" he exclaimed. "Had 
it not been for Mexico, we should never have 
witnessed Sedan." 

General Fleury developed the same idea, with 
more precision, in the account which he gave the 
Abbé Bauer of a conversation he had had with 
the Czar Alexander II. We quote it from the 
unpublished Memoirs of the Abbé — 

" I was seated, very uncomfortably seated, 
beside the Emperor in his sledge, listening with 
keen attention to his conversation. It turned 
upon the expedition of Mexico. 

" The French nation will never know what a 
nefarious influence was wrought on the events of 
1870 by this Mexican folly. I can tell you all 
about it, for I speak knowingly. Had it not been 
for the Querétaro tragedy, Austria would have 
mobilized in 1870, thus giving Prussia a solemn 
warning which might have been interpreted as 
a threat. Francis Joseph harboured the very 
legitimate desire to avenge the defeat of Kônig- 
grâtz. In order to do so he would have had to 
grasp the hand stained with his brother's blood. 
This he would not do." 

For a few more months these gloomy pictures 
were relegated to the background. The recent 



248 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

sad events became more or less forgotten, 
and the nightmare, hideous as it was, eventually 
gave way to pleasant dreams, conceived in the 
dazzling light and the gay concourse of the 
Exhibition of 1867. 



CHAPTER VIII 

A short halt on the downward grade — The year 1867 and the 
glories of the Exhibition — How politics were forgotten by 
Kings and Emperors amid such dazzling splendour — Conse- 
quences of this interval — Alexander II, Queen Augusta and 
the Empress— The journey to Salzburg — The two Empresses 
— An imprudent remark of Eugénie concerning Count de 
Beust — Clouds foregather in France — A rude test for a mother's 
heart — Episode of the 3rd August, 1869, at the Sorbonne, which 
occurred between young Cavaignac and the Prince Imperial — 
The impression it caused at Fontainebleau — Serious nervous 
breakdown of the Empress — Her journey to Corsica — Her 
more extensive expedition to the East — Eugénie goes to Egypt 
for the solemn inauguration of the Suez Canal — Her letter to 
the Emperor written on the way — Various anecdotes— Ferdi- 
nand de Lesseps, the Empress and England — Ismail's dinner- 
party — Excursion to the desert— Return to France— Bitter 
disappointment— The Liberal Cabinet defines and restricts the 
position of the Empress— Striking example of her diminished 
power — Home and foreign questions— The Empress, Rome 
and the Italian alliance— Fears caused by imminent events. 

There was a short halt in the decline of this 

brilliant Empire — a halt that marked a period so 

full of promise as to seem the apogee, the acme of 

its glory. 

1867 and the Universal Exhibition! What 

banners and bunting were displayed while it 

lasted ! The ground was strewn with flowers, 

that hid from the view the awful abyss which was 

being excavated under the feet of the all-powerful 

Masters. On the day of the opening, business 

came to a standstill. Paris wanted to see, to 
249 



25o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

admire from far or near. The doors of the 
Palace of Industry were thrown open early in the 
morning. Thousands of flags lent their brilliant 
colouring to the buildings, filled with huge crowds. 
The Emperor soon appeared, wearing evening 
dress, with the broad ribbon of the Legion of 
Honour. The Empress wore a dress of shot 
silk, lace mantle, and a black-and-white bonnet 
with a garland of violets and a long aigrette. The 
Prince Imperial did not accompany them, for he 
was not in good health. 1 

As the cortège passed, slowly as becomes official 
cortèges, those who composed it were easily 
recognized and named by the onlookers. Prince 
Napoleon, her sister Mathilde, the Princess of 
Wales, the Count of Flanders, the Duke of 
Leuchtenberg, Haussmann, Schneider and many 
more were mentioned, both going and coming. 
The same actors and the same public were soon 
to meet again. On this second occasion, Napo- 

1 " The little Caesar's health was slightly impaired. His 
malady," wrote Mérimée, "has had at least the good result of 
convincing' their Majesties that he was very badly brought 
up. He partook of late dinner at his parents' table, and 
remained up late in the drawing-room in the overheated 
atmosphere of the Tuileries. The child was prudent and 
plucky while his illness lasted. He refused to be chloroformed, 
and insisted that his mother should not be informed of the 
operation which he had to undergo. It was not a very serious 
one. He was merely incommoded by an impediment which 
prevented him from sitting down." 




THE PRINCE IMPERIAL. 
From a picture by Adolphe Yvon. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 251 

leon III was the recipient of one of the most 
grateful honours and the most complete marks of 
approval that a popular monarch could aspire to. 
In the presence of the Empress and of all the 
State dignitaries, and surrounded by a huge con- 
course of his subjects, he received at the hands 
of the Prince Imperial, his son, the prize awarded 
by the International Jury for the best model farm 
and workmen's dwellings. He had himself in- 
spired the building of both, and his efforts, thus 
rewarded, earned at the hands of those present 
thunders of applause. 

Festivals and receptions succeeded each other 
without interruption. Parades, processions and 
cavalcades followed in quick succession. London 
and Berlin were jealous of the splendour of the 
French capital, graced by the affluence of Royal 
visitors. It was said with truth that the simul- 
taneous presence of so many illustrious guests 
caused much work and worry to the Emperor's 
household. Twelve Emperors and Kings, six 
reigning Princes, a Viceroy, nine heirs-presump- 
tive, to say nothing of an army of Highnesses, 
had been the guests of Paris since the spring. 1 

1 By a strange coincidence, many of the Princes who visited 
the Exhibition were doomed to a dramatic ending. Napoleon 
III died in exile, after losing his throne and undergoing untold 
sufferings. Alexander II was killed in the streets of his capital 
by the explosion of a bomb. Abdul-Aziz stabbed himself to 
death in his harem with a pair of scissors. 



2 5 2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

The thurifers of the throne were in ecstasies 
over this list of royalties. They might well have 
repeated the words spoken in 1809 by Segur : " It 
is impossible to circulate through the streets of 
Paris, for the traffic is blocked by Kings." ! 
During this fairy life of six months, amusements 
and distractions were so numerous at the Tuileries 
that the occupiers thereof forsook business for 
pleasure and totally neglected affairs of great 
moment. While the stalls and circle of the 
Theatre of Varieties were filled to overflowing- 
with autocrats, the Emperor and Empress found 
no time to entertain them on subjects less futile. 
They would have been well advised to hold serious 
converse with some of those noble foreigners, 
friendly but envious just then, who were their 
likely enemies of the morrow. One evening it was 
noticed that Monsieur de Bismarck, a somewhat 
rough-and-ready man, but a bon vivant withal, 
had thrice applauded Hortense Schneider and 
the three lunatics commanded by General Bourn. 
Many present wondered what his thoughts might 
be at more serious moments, what opinion he 
had formed of the political inertia of those who 

1 One day Napoleon I had upbraided Count de Segur, his 
Chamberlain, for being late. " Sire," said the astute courtier, 
" I owe a million apologies to your Majesty, but now-a-days one 
cannot move in the streets. My progress was impeded, as the 
traffic was blocked by Kings." In 1809 there were not more 
than six reigning Highnesses in Taris. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 253 

provided food and laughter and asked for nothing 
in return. His opinion, alas! was duly formed. 
He had no hesitation in concluding that Napo- 
leon was a great nonentity misjudged. At the 
interview of Biarritz he had already discounted 
him at his proper value. The Emperor William 
shared the views of his Minister. As to the 
Emperor of Russia, he had one day begun a con- 
versation that might have proved interesting had 
not the sudden and rustling arrival of the Empress 
cut it short. The said conversation was never 
resumed ; the phlegmatic Napoleon III had not 
seized the opportunity of feeling the ground in 
the matter of practical combinations, either with 
Bismarck or with Gortschakoff. Acting with 
excessive reserve or misplaced prudence, he had 
avoided discussing general politics with his guests, 
each of whom expected him to do so. On the 
other hand, the Empress, less pusillanimous and 
less discreet, had broached them in her usual heed- 
less way, thus adding difficulties to the situation 
and hopelessly shuffling the cards, quite innocently, 
as usual. The granddaughter of Charles of Saxe- 
Weimar, whose education had not rendered her 
sympathetic towards Prussia, and whose marriage 
had made her a Queen, but also a wife opposed in 
taste and sentiment to all the ideals of her husband 
— Queen Augusta — was indignant at the secondary 
position assigned to her at the Court of Berlin, and 



254 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

was, moreover, a great friend and admirer of 
France. During her stay in Paris she met Arles- 
Dufour, a humanitarian philosopher and a great 
propagator of lofty ideals. 

" I do not think," she said to him, "that your 
Foreign Minister, the Marquis de Moustier, M. 
Rouher and Napoleon III want to go to war 
with us, but the Empress and a portion of the 
Army would be glad if war were declared." 

"The Empress? Why does your Majesty 
think that ? " 

" Because as she drove me back to the Embassy 
to-day she said to me, 'We will declare war 
against you.' " 

Although the occasion of the French Exhibition 
seemed one that called for the discussion of peace- 
ful subjects only, General Ducrot and Count 
Bismarck had an angry discussion about the 
forthcoming inevitable struggle between France 
and Germany. 

If such a contingency was really meditated, 
one would think that common-sense would have 
urged those in power to meet it, if not avert it, 
by contracting useful alliances. Such a policy 
could not have been expected from the Emperor 
himself, who, through some inconceivable illusion, 
was always inclined to favour Prussia, and dis- 
posed to love her rather than to hate her. The 
obtainment of such secret alliances was certainly 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 255 

not facilitated by the Empress, who, as we have 
shown, missed a golden opportunity for deriving 
real advantages from this meeting of Kings and 
Emperors in the capital of France. Alexander 
II, a man of generous impulse though of weak 
character, was dissatisfied with the results of his 
visit. Gortschakoff had obtained nothing. Bis- 
marck had promised nothing. The results of the 
journey to Salzburg during the same year had 
also proved negative. 

The 17th August, 1867, was the appointed date 
for the visit to the Sovereign of Austria- Hungary. 

The Emperor had left Chalons camp, accom- 
panied by the Empress. He had previously 
notified to the Chanceries of Europe the reasons 
of courtesy that bade him visit Francis Joseph. 
Anxious to lull the susceptibilities of Germany, 
ever ready to assert herself since the pride of 
German statesmen had been enhanced by 
victory and by their confidence in the strength 
of their country, he had commissioned Goltz to 
afford the King of Prussia the most assuring 
explanations of the course he was pursuing. 
Goltz was to dwell upon the propriety of one 
family offering its condolences to another when 
both had had to mourn a common loss. 1 

The Imperial journey was effected under happy 
auspices, although it was stripped of official 
1 This referred to the recent death of Maximilian. 



2 5 6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

ceremonial, as Napoleon was travelling incognito. 
The Imperial couple were met at the station of 
Ulm by the King of Wurtemberg, and the next 
day at Augsburg by the reigning Prince of 
Bavaria, who accompanied them to the border of 
his State. A huge crowd greeted the son of 
Queen Hortense when at Augsburg he visited 
the house in which his mother had resided and 
the college where he had begun his studies. 
The Empress noted with keen pleasure these 
testimonies of German sympathy. 

Three years later her satisfaction was to give 
way to feelings of anger and hatred, owing to the 
political upheaval which occurred. 

There followed a series of happy days, and 
notwithstanding the mourning she wore, she was 
afforded a reception on a magnificent scale, being 
received by Francis Joseph, who was accompanied 
by Beust, Andrassy, and all the members of the 
Austrian Cabinet. 

On several occasions the Empress Elizabeth 
had expressed the wish to meet the Empress 
Eugénie. 

She once said to the French Ambassador, 
" Do you not think that one or the other of our 
watering-places would suit Her French Majesty ? " 

Now her wish was accomplished. The two 
Sovereigns were rivals in grace and beauty. 
Francis Joseph and Napoleon had repeated con- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 257 

versations full of reciprocal amenity, but in the 
course of which the greatest prudence was 
preserved on both sides. 

Count de Beust, the Saxon Minister, had joined 
the service of the Habsburg dynasty after 
Sadowa. With all his might he tried to effect the 
restoration of Austria- Hungary's greatness, and 
for that reason he felt disappointed at the meagre 
result of the Imperial interviews, from which he 
had expected much more than a formal exchange 
of mutual congratulations. At one time he had 
even harboured the hope of seeing a formal 
agreement effected between the countries. Na- 
poleon and the Emperor of Austria had almost 
decided to sign a convention based upon the 
following lines : The maintenance of the integrity 
of the Ottoman Empire, and the determined 
opposition of the signatories to the development 
of Prussia into a German Empire. Beust began 
to nurture great projects. But his diplomatic 
ardour was sensibly chilled by one phrase of 
Eugénie, which was repeated to him : " Monsieur 
de Beust is too eager, too anxious, to bring 
matters to a head." Count de Beust felt dis- 
couraged before he had begun his work in 
earnest, and later he explained the whole situation 
in the Parisian salon of Madame Adam : "There 
was every need to hurry. Prussia was ready 
before we had begun to arm. While the Empress 



258 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

thought that we were acting too promptly, the 
Emperor taxed me with a lack of initiative. 
What could be expected from such a contradictory- 
policy ? " 

The fruitless visit to Salzburg meant the loss 
of a golden opportunity to impart fresh life to 
a regime that was at the same time weak and 
prosperous. One by one the most faithful 
supporters of the Empire were disappearing from 
the sphere of politics. Morny's death was almost 
a national calamity. " His influence," said de 
Girardin, "was really the safety-valve of the Second 
Empire. Alone, he could impose a Cabinet of 
his own choice upon the versatile Napoleon ; alone, 
he dared tell him the truth in the midst of his 
hypocritical surroundings." With Morny, the 
Emperor lost his compass and his bearings. 
Other trusted advisers, like Walewski, passed 
away. Field- Marshal Niel, the one energetic 
organizer in the French Army, was a grave loss 
to the Sovereign and the country. A wicked 
fate seemed to attend France's international 
relations. A feeling of uneasiness weighed upon 
the whole country, and it seemed aggravated 
rather than relieved by the recent granting of 
liberal concessions. Public opinion had mainly 
used them in order to express its condemnation 
and discontent. Red was fast becoming the 
prominent colour in the political horizon. No 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 259 

sooner were the last dikes removed, than the 
democratic wave began to flow impetuously. 
The Empress, imbued with the craving for 
authority, anxiously and angrily watched the 
growth of the storm, the rising of the flood. 

On an August day in 1868 she received a 
heavy blow. It struck the Empress and the 
mother, and left an impression of disenchant- 
ment that was never dispelled. 

At the beginning of the month, the Court was 
in residence at Fontainebleau. The Prince 
Imperial came to Paris to preside at the distribu- 
tion of prizes obtained in the General Competi- 
tion between the public schools. The laureates 
received from his hands their prizes and their 
crowns of laurel. Among them was young 
Cavaignac, who had scored a signal success by 
carrying off a great number of rewards. In the 
ordinary course of things he should have ascended 
the official platform to receive them from the 
Prince, but the son of the old Republican, 
victim of the Coup d'État of the 2nd December, 
remembered all his father's sufferings, and, obey- 
ing the instructions of his mother, the real incar- 
nation of a true Republican, the lad refused to 
receive his prizes at the hands of the young Prince. 
His action was applauded by his school-fellows 
of the Lycée Bonaparte, and the incident was 
widely commented upon in the Press. 



26o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

The young Prince returned to Fontainebleau 
full of sadness, and on learning the cause of 
his grief, the Empress exclaimed, "My poor 
boy, they will not spare us now ! " This public 
insult had inflicted upon her heart a wound that 
could not be healed in a moment. The Emperor 
and his son remained silent, while Her Majesty 
seemed much preoccupied. It was noticed that 
General Frossard, the Prince's military instructor, 
was in a worse temper than usual. 

After dinner, coffee was served in the Saint- 
Louis drawing-room, and the company soon 
retired by the gallery leading to the Court of La 
Fontaine. Among the seven or eight guests who 
remained were Conti, the Emperor's private 
secretary, and Octave Feuillet, the writer. They 
were both seated together, when a sudden out- 
burst of laughter interrupted their conversation. 
" It is the Empress who is laughing," said Conti. 
Feuillet shuddered, as he realized that Eugénie 
was suffering from a hysterical seizure. The 
shrill laughter became louder and louder. The 
two men rose and went into the next room. 
Pietri closed the shutters, and sent in haste 
for Corvisart, the Emperor's physician. The 
Empress was seen to her apartments, but there 
again she became convulsed with laughter. The 
courtyard was filled with an eager crowd of 
courtiers and servants, whose blood was con- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 261 

gealed by those awful outbursts that were re-echoed 
by the walls of the old Palace. The Empress 
had broken down under the insult offered to her 
son — she who had so often faced personal danger 
with the greatest courage ! 

An hour later she came into the garden. Five 
or six of her most faithful followers gathered 
around her. She inhaled ether, and reclining in 
an arm-chair, gazed aimlessly at the storm-laden 
sky. She seemed quite heedless, despite the 
efforts of those present to divert her thoughts by 
conversing on different subjects. She tried in 
vain to follow the trend of the conversation, but 
her speech was incoherent, and with repeated 
sighs she exclaimed, " My ppor little boy ! " 

" There were very few of us in attendance upon 
her," wrote Octave Feuillet ; "it seemed as if 
misfortune had already overtaken her." 

At eleven she retired, like a ghost. 

Troubled times were near at hand. 

The news had spread beyond the Tuileries 
that the Emperor was far from well, and that he 
was not suffering from rheumatism only. The 
unfavourable reports of his health had a bad 
effect upon the Stock Exchange, the quotations 
of which were far from steady. The reports 
circulated in the official bulletins, mostly of an 
optimistic nature, could not remove the general 
feeling of apprehension based upon the facts that 



2Ô2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

the Emperor was in the hands of his physicians 
and that he was not always master of his own 
house. With a view to reassuring the public 
mind, Eugénie decided to go to Corsica, there 
to visit the birthplace of the founder of the 
dynasty, whose centenary was being celebrated. 
She started, leaving the Emperor to his thoughts. 
These were far from gay, for he felt weighed 
down by the cares of State and worn out by 
suffering. The complications from without were 
sufficiently grave to draw him from his normal 
condition of lethargy and indolence. The day 
was far away when a high military commander 
had said, amid the applause of the assembly — 

" Let us place our whole trust in the Emperor ; 
he is the strongest man of the time." 

He himself had believed in the fixity of his 
star. Mexico and Sadowa had tended to lessen, 
to shake this confidence in the power of his own 
genius. He had found himself obliged to change 
his system of internal government in every detail, 
and to revert to the parliamentary régime. He 
had soon come to the conclusion that other- 
wise he could not succeed in making the profits 
tally with the losses. He had endeavoured to 
find distraction in the pursuit of study, and now 
attempted, under the auspices of Julius Caesar, to 
find glory by composing an apology of the Dictator 
and of dictatorship. The Press, however, had the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 26 



cruel honesty to tell him that what he wrote was 
poor matter, or, if the matter met with their 
approval, the critics said that it was not the 
product of his own pen, and that in publishing his 
work the publisher had made a very bad bargain. 
The expression of these opinions drove him 
into a state of profound melancholia. At Saint- 
Cloud he seemed enveloped in a dark mist, the 
while the Empress sought warmth and light on 
the grassy slopes of Corsican mountains, under 
the heavenly sky of Ajaccio. She had started 
rather late in the year. It was noticed at the 
time that the second century had set in six days 
previously for the protector of the Confederation 
of the Rhine. She had endeavoured to preserve 
a calm demeanour before the inhabitants of 
Toulon and Ajaccio. In truth, well-founded 
anxiety concerning the physical and moral health 
of the Emperor had taken full possession of her 
mind. Her journey was effected in pursuance of 
the official programme, but not as satisfactorily as 
might have been wished. With the exception of 
enthusiastic welcomes duly rehearsed and made 
to order, she was received everywhere with marked 
coolness. As she drove past, flowers were strewn 
before her, but they were few and far between. 
The hurrahs were somewhat hoarse and muffled. 
In a word, she suffered disenchantment in the 
course of her visit. The recollection of it was 



26 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

still obscured by disappointment when she was 
offered ample compensation in the guise of a more 
romantic expedition to the East. 

In the course of the summer of 1869 the Viceroy 
of Egypt had come expressly to Paris to solicit a 
personal favour from the Empress, to wit, that she 
should graciously consent to symbolize and repre- 
sent France at the inauguration of the Suez Canal. 
Ferdinand de Lesseps had added his humble 
request to that of the descendant of the Pharaohs. 
She did not struggle long against her own desire 
to attend a function unprecedented, under the 
gaze of the East and of all Europe. C She made 
very few objections to the proposal, nor did her 
followers try to dissuade her from accepting the 
pressing invitation. One of them, Mérimée, jo- 
cosely opposed the project on the ground of the 
ill-famed morals of Ismail. 1 The Empress would 
have to learn by personal experience that the 
qualities attendant upon a perfect education were 

1 Ismail was a Prince who indulged in lavish extravagance. 
Fond of display, astute like most orientals, sensual, material- 
istic, but devoured by a passion for greatness, he was active 
and daring. Notwithstanding his prodigal ways, his malver- 
sations, his financial improvidence, he had paved the way to an 
era of exceptional prosperity, such as Egypt had not enjoyed 
for centuries. There was nothing majestic or imposing about 
his personal appearance. He was squat and short, with blink- 
ing eyes and commonplace features. His only characteristic 
resided in the great mobility of his facial expression, as a result 
of which he in no way looked like an Eastern satrap. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 265 

lacking both in the deeds and speech of this 
oriental. That it was so is duly proved by the 
following passage, contained in a letter from the 
Imperial traveller to the Emperor, her husband — 

" This Ismail says things to me that positively 
make my hair stand on end." ] 

She did not deem it necessary, however, to 
discount such matters in advance, or to deprive 
herself, on their account, of witnessing one of the 
most beautiful sights in the world. 

She was glad to get away, to avoid a period of 
intense agitation caused by the general elections. 
She left behind her the strife of passions and 
personal interests, and lost sight for the time 
being of those unmistakable signs of hostility 
towards the Empire which she had already noticed. 
Surrounded by luxury so fastuous as to recall the 
magnificence of Cleopatra sailing down the sacred 
river, she fed her soul and her intelligence upon 
marvellous impressions. In the beginning of 
October Eugénie crossed the Bosphorus, where 
her eyes dwelt with delight upon the luminous 
panorama of Constantinople. On the following 
day she was keenly interested in the picture 
afforded by the three cities merged into one — 
Scutari, Stamboul and Pera-Galata. Her ear 
had already grown accustomed to the oriental 
clamour, to that weird collection of noises germane 
to Constantinople. Travellers are wont to recog- 



266 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

nize these noises from among all the noises of 
the inhabited earth ! In her diary, however, one 
finds less impressions recorded upon nature and 
the picturesque than notes referring to the visits 
paid by this Catholic Sovereign to palaces, schools, 
and to the interior of churches. On the 7th 
October, before pursuing her journey, she sketched 
the details of it for the Emperor, in that simple, 
expansive and conjugal tone in which she addressed 
him — 

" Imperial Palace of Beyle- Bey, 
" 'jth October, 1769. 

" My Very Dear Friend, 

" I have time to catch the Wednesday 
mail from Constantinople, so I send you herewith 
an account of to-day's proceedings, which were 
very tiring, but interesting for many reasons. I 
went to hear Mass at the Armenian church, and 
from there to the French Embassy, where I gave 
audience to the principal French merchants of the 
town and to the religious orders who are under 
the protection of France. I replied to the speeches, 
but in doing so I trembled like a leaf. I was 
afforded a wonderful ovation by the crowds in the 
streets. The Turkish women look as if they 
would like to throw their yashmaks to the winds, 
but I hope they will keep them on. Further 
generations must be born, endowed with sufficient 
education to afford them a check upon liberty and 






THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 267 

freedom that would now become licentiousness 
pure and simple, should the womanhood of Turkey 
adopt European dress and habits. 

" Poor Metternich ! 

" I fancy he must have been dealing with a 
lunatic, 1 for it is impossible that he should be 
blamed for anything that occurred, considering the 
number of intrigues that the lady indulged in. 
There must surely be safety in numbers, unless 
she is a woman of the lowest type, and this I 
absolutely refuse to believe. At any rate, to cast 
mud at one's own children is surely the act of a 
madman. 

" Louis has written me a delightful letter. 
With fondest kisses, I remain your ever devoted 

" Eugénie." 

It had not yet become the custom of sovereigns 
and heads of States to be accompanied in the 
course of their journeys by an army of reporters. 
So the papers published descriptions, more or less 
accurate, of the wonderful reception afforded her 
by the Khedive, and of the romantic circumstances 
that attended the various stages of her journey 
through the land of Egypt. While she sailed up 

1 This refers to the duel which Metternich fought with 
Monsieur de Beaumont, who crossed swords with two other 
members of the Jockey Club in order to defend the com- 
promised honour of the Countess to Beaumont. 



268 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

the Nile in a darabieh the Emperor went alone to 
Compiègne, where he was followed by the Prince 
Imperial. Wishing to afford his son some dis- 
traction, he invited a number of guests. There 
were hunting-parties galore, with the usual display 
of huntsmen, beaters and trumpeters. A quarry 
by torchlight, in the Court of Honour, caused 
enthusiastic admiration on the part of those who 
witnessed it. 

On the 15th November, 1869, Suez witnessed 
the removal of the last obstacles which prevented 
the union between two oceans. 1 The inter-oceanic 
Canal, open to the vessels of all nations, had ab- 
sorbed two thousand leagues of soil. This gigantic 
work, one of the most marvellous ever wrought by 
the genius and perseverance of man, calls for some 
special reference and for the relation of certain facts 
connected with its history. 

Seven or eight years before the unforgetable 
15th November, 1869, several guests of high 
standing foregathered around a hospitable table 
in the Rue de Greffulhe. The host was Admiral 
Jurien de la Gravière, member of the French 
Academy, and among those present were 
Ferdinand de Lesseps, Bernard Bauer, Barthé- 
lémy Saint-Hilaire, General Trochu and Count 
de la Guéronnière. After dinner Lesseps asked 
the Court preacher, Bauer, to speak at the 
1 The 15th was the anniversary of the Empress. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 269 

opening ceremony of the Canal. His offer was 
accepted, not without fear but with joy, as is 
recorded by Bauer in his notes. The guests' ex- 
penses were to be met with great lavishness by 
the Khedivial Treasury. It was not possible, 
however, to fix any remuneration for the address 
which the Protonotary Apostolic was to deliver at 
the blessing of the Canal. De Lesseps, with his 
usual generosity, would have liked the labourer to 
be duly rewarded. 

"You are going to speak of us and in our 
behalf," he said to the preacher. " I don't know 
what you are going to say, but I am certain that 
you will speak of us as your friends. The proverb 
says, ' Little presents cement big friendships,' so 
I will ask you on that account to accept a little 
present from me." 

"If you mean your portrait, I shall be de- 
lighted." 

" Oh no, I mean something much more sub- 
stantial than that. We have created a certain 
number of founders' shares, like all similar com- 
panies. Allow me to offer you one at par. At 
present it only represents a sheet of paper, but 
some day, perhaps, it will mean a fortune to you, 
my dear Abbé." 

Bauer little knew just then of the enormous 
folly he was committing through his disinterested- 
ness, when he refused a sheet of paper which 



2 7 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

forty years later represented one million and a 
half of francs, or ,£60,000. 

His Highness the Khedive celebrated the 
solemn occasion at Ismailia by a banquet, which 
was served with the greatest luxury and refine- 
ment. The sacred orator was among the guests, 
and in warm terms he expressed the enthusiasm 
of those present. He has left us in his manu- 
script notes the impressions he formed while 
listening carefully to the conversation of the 
Viceroy and his guests. 

Two figures seemed prominently engraven upon 
his memory, those of an old man and a young 
girl, the two extremes of human life. The young 
girl, whose eighteen summers coupled captivating 
beauty with accomplished grace, was the fiancée 
of the great Frenchman, as Ferdinand de Lesseps 
was called. The old man was the Consul-General 
of the Netherlands. A personal friend of de 
Lesseps, he had been an early witness of his 
homeric struggles. He related them with keen 
zest, quoting the following fact, which is but little 
known. 

After untold efforts, as costly as they were 
prolonged and dangerous, Ferdinand de Lesseps 
had at last succeeded in obtaining the firman 
of the concession. He was overcome with 
joy. The works were to be begun at once, and 
nothing henceforth should delay him. Suddenly, 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 271 

however, the whole edifice seemed to totter. The 
Empress Eugénie, who was related through her 
mother to the Lesseps, wrote him thus, after being 
the faithful protagonist of his great scheme: 
" The Emperor bids me tell you that you must 
abandon your chimera. To put it into effect 
would bring about a war between France and 
England. We must bid good-bye to our beautiful 
dream." 

Lesseps had received this crushing news at 
midnight. He and the Consul of the Netherlands 
were alone. The latter endeavoured forthwith to 
direct the train of his friend's thoughts towards 
other projects worthy of his genius. At two 
o'clock in the morning he said to him — 

"Well, my friend, what are you going to do 
now ? " 

Calm and collected, Lesseps replied, " It is two 
o'clock, so I am going to bed." 

It was evident that this man of energy had not 
abandoned his colossal enterprise. He did not 
seek much comfort from sweet slumber, for at 
five o'clock he knocked at the Consul's door. 

"What is the matter?" 

" I have come to bid you good-bye." 

" Are you going ? " 

"Yes, in ten minutes." 

" Where are you rushing so suddenly ? " 

" To England." 



272 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

" But with what object ? " 

" I am going to convert the English, by proving 
to them the necessity of throwing open to com- 
merce one of the great thoroughfares of the 
world, which has been closed by a whim of Nature. 
I shall go from town to town, from village to 
village, and from house to house, if needs be, 
delivering the same speech thousands of times, 
but I shall prove to them that by listening to me 
they will best serve their own interests, and that 
the Canal will bring them wealth, glory and 
commercial salvation." 

Accompanied by an interpreter, he reached his 
goal. We know the rest. His efforts begot 
success, his success became a triumph. The 
English lent an ear to him and understood. They 
opened their eyes. They opened their purses. 
None can tell how much they have made in 
return. 

The dinner of Ismail came to an end as this 
interesting conversation closed. 

A few days later the Empress returned to 
Cairo after her trip through Upper Egypt. The 
Khedive went to meet her at the Pyramids. He 
had the delicate attention to invite Monsieur 
Bauer, one of his French guests, to drive with him 
in his victoria. The drive was a memorable one. 
The splendid equipage, with its escort of brilliant 
uniforms, proceeded along the road lined by 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 273 

motionless fellahs, who awaited but a sign from 
their master before bowing to the ground. The 
Viceroy was very chatty, and spoke about women, 
the country and politics. 

" In Europe," he said, "woman is an object of 
worship, at least when she is young and handsome. 
With us, she is only an article of luxury. We 
keep harems just as you keep stables or kennels. 
I admit that Europe is superior to the East. It 
is all a question of education. The greatest of 
all European women is the French woman, and 
the Parisian woman is the first among French 
women." 

The Viceroy still harboured happy recollections 
of his journey to Paris, and his excursions through 
the demi-monde. Dismissing this frivolous subject, 
Ismail began to treat of quite another matter, 
which offered a strong contrast to his earlier 
conversation. He acquainted his guest with the 
number of precautions worthy of an Eastern 
despot which had been enforced by his order 
before the Empress landed at Alexandria. 

" Alexandria, you see, is a town unlike others. 
Its population is composed of people from every 
country, and to a large extent of the scum of every 
country. Murder is rife in Alexandria, which is 
very unpleasant. I thought of this as the French 
ship that bore your gracious Sovereign was about 
to reach our shores. I said to myself, 'This is 



274 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

not chic' (His Highness Ismail Pasha had not 
forgotten the Parisian expression) ; ' we shall be 
looked upon as savages, so this state of things 
must stop.' I sent for the Chief of Police, and 
told him that he must immediately clear the air 
of Alexandria. To this effect I gave him full 
power. Twelve days later I received his report — 
a very chic report, the substance of which was 
as follows : There were about a hundred bad 
characters in Alexandria — Turks, Arabs, Alban- 
ians, Greeks, Italians — an appalling rabble. They 
were seized, gagged, garotted and thrown into a 
ship's hold. When the cargo was completed, 
they were counted. There were eighty-seven of 
them. It was easy to surmise what they really 
needed, eighty-seven sacks, and three heavy stones 
to each sack. Towards midnight the ship put off. 
An hour later her engines were stopped, and 
eighty-seven times in succession a splash was 
heard. Each time the sea had swallowed up a 
blackguard. Every one was delighted in Alex- 
andria. By the way, I was forgetting to tell you 
a detail. Among the convicts there were two 
brothers, Greeks, one a respectable man, the other 
a ruffian. The police made a mistake, and it was 
the former who went splash. This, of course, was 
regretable, but it could not be helped." 

The Viceroy's peculations were enormous, and 
during his reign the Egyptian debt rose from 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 275 

twenty-four millions sterling, the amount due by 
Said, his predecessor, to ninety-six millions sterl- 
ing. He was, therefore, fully qualified to hold 
forth about the great importance he attached to 
honesty in general, and to that of his followers 
in particular. He spoke to Bauer upon these 
matters, and mentioned the name of a French 
official who had been attached to his person for 
several years. The Frenchman's daughter was 
about to be married, and Ismail, who took a great 
interest in her, asked her father what dowry he 
was giving her. 

"She will have ^3400, your Highness." 

11 Per year, you mean ? " 

"No, your Highness ; in all." 

" But why are you giving her such a measly 
sum ? " 

" Because it is all I possess." 

The Viceroy was taken aback. Being a Prince 
with wide ideas and vast plans, who had put them 
into effect by borrowing from Eastern money- 
lenders at an exorbitant interest, he could not 
understand. 

"If after spending so many years in my service 
you have only ^3400 you must be an imbecile. 
I always thought you were an intelligent 
man." 

Thus he spoke to a faithful and honest retainer. 
The conversation ended there, for the cortège of 



276 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

the Empress was in sight. The drums were 
beating, the cannon roaring. 

On the following day the Viceroy's French 
guests went for a ride in the desert. It almost 
proved a fatal one. Towards five o'clock the 
horsemen were about thirty miles from Ismailia, 
when suddenly rose the hot wind, the simoom. 
The sky became laden. The setting sun had 
a violet and livid hue. The panting breath of 
the storm lashed the sand into a vortex. Dumb 
and motionless, their faces covered with their hand- 
kerchiefs, the travellers expected every moment 
to be engulfed or suffocated. As night set in 
the storm subsided, but they could not make their 
way through the sandy desert in the dark. As 
the anxiety of the travellers was great, Lesseps 
jokingly said to them, " Let us trust to the 
instinct of our horses. If they lose their way 
we shall reach Mount Sinai in about forty days. 
The monks there will give us dinner. Of course 
we shall find no water, no pasture and no inns on 
the way. That is the only drawback." 

After galloping an hour, the party saw a vague 
light, and knew they were near Ismailia. They 
hurried on, and were filled with joy as the soft 
strains of the Angelus told them that they were 
safe at last. 

On her return the Empress had resumed the 
direction of France and Paris. She noticed with 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 277 

grief that the situation had undergone a great 
change, and that it showed forebodings of grave 
events. Alas ! the happy hours had flown for ever. 
The attacks of the German Press became more 
violent each day, and they did not spare herself. 1 
The former elements of opposition had now 
become elements of a radical and systematic 
antagonism. Mistrust and disaffection had not 
yet permeated the masses, but had obtained a 
strong hold upon social and political circles, anxious 
as they were to know how long they were likely to 
enjoy their present privileges. Although animated 
by the best intentions, the new Cabinet had pro- 
voked more fears than hopes, more jealous hatred 
than sympathy. Old Imperialists like Magne 
Ougher, Persigny and Haussmann, rent the air 
with their complaints. Fleury, the Master of the 
Horse, had been heard to say, " I do not need 
to buy new carriages for the Emperor. He will 
not wear out the ones he has." 

1 She keenly resented pin-pricks and unkind allusions to her 
in published plays and novels and freely commented upon by 
the dailyjPress. George Sand had recently sketched her in her 
novel {Malyré tout) in true colours, perhaps, but with very little 
kindness. The book, with the passage well marked, had been 
brought to her. She consulted Mérimée as to the line of con- 
duct she should adopt towards the brilliant writer, who had 
forgotten the many occasions on which she had sought and 
received marks of favour from the Empress. Mérimée, the 
sceptic, advised her to close her eyes, saying, " De minimis 
non curat prsetor." 



278 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Pietri, Chief of Police, had referred to this 
unrest of the public mind, and had embodied his 
conclusions in a lengthy report, which was read 
by the Emperor and the Empress. 

She was helpless. The days of her omni- 
potence had gone. The Empress was compelled 
to efface herself before the Liberal Cabinet, which 
governed against her wish. If on certain occasions 
she glided furtively into the Council Chamber, she 
did not speak a word there, but reserved her 
criticisms for other spheres. In truth, had the 
advisers of Napoleon III so wished, she would 
have been relegated to her private apartments, 
and kept there, the prisoner of her own luxury, 
without the right to speak or act. A modus 
vivendi, a compromise between Liberty and 
Csesarism, which some have thought could become 
a lasting treaty of peace, was already beset by 
enough difficulties. To add to them the risk of 
a feminine intervention, ardent, impulsive and 
dictatorial, was a step that could not be contem- 
plated for a moment. Those in power informed 
their followers that the good graces of the 
Ministry could only be obtained by combating 
all the ideas and principles of the Empress. To 
this theory both Ministers and followers readily 
subscribed. Under such circumstances there was 
little benefit to be derived from her personal 
recommendation, in proof of which I quote once 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 279 

more the diary of Bauer. It affords a striking 
example of the systematic opposition offered by 
the authorities to the influence of Eugénie during 
the latter months of the Empire. 

In June 1870, a few days after the proclamation 
of the plebiscite in the Louvre, some friends of the 
Imperial chaplain, members of one of the so-called 
irreconcilable families of the Faubourg Saint- 
Germain, asked him to invoke the protection 
of the Empress in behalf of a relative of theirs. 
These noble families pretended to ignore the 
Imperial Palace and its residents, but did not 
hesitate to seek favours at their hand. Bauer's 
influence was sought in this case by the friends of 
a Royalist who had been weak enough to solicit 
an official position from usurpers like the Bona- 
partes, and who, in return, had only been 
appointed to a third-class shrievalty. One so 
highly connected, who had nobly lost his fortune 
at the game of lansquenet, could not possibly 
mould any longer in a little country town of two 
thousand inhabitants. It was urgent that he 
should be promoted at least to the second class. 
This important mission brought the Court 
preacher to the Tuileries for the last time. He 
ascended the splendid staircase, which a year 
afterwards was doomed to disappear — burnt down 
by the petroleum of the Commune. He was at 
once struck by the extraordinary changes that had 



2 8o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

come over both the masters and servants of the 
Palace. Still beautiful and elegant, the daughter of 
the Countess Montijo gave one that impression 
of gravity and sadness which is always depicted 
in the Roman matrons of old. Her deport- 
ment and her costume were unusually sober. 
There was no rush of courtiers, no applicants 
at her doors. The ante-rooms hitherto crowded 
were now empty, and there was no visitor to 
follow him when he was introduced into the 
Imperial presence. He found the Empress in 
an expansive mood — that mood which overtakes 
those who feel they must relieve their fears and 
steel their courage by relating their woes to a 
sympathetic soul. For a moment the object of 
the visit was quite forgotten. The audience 
lasted a long time, and the subject of conversa- 
tion was the imposing ceremony of the plebiscite, 
where, for the first and only time since the 
beginning of the reign, she had shared the 
Emperor's throne. Hitherto she had always 
witnessed the great political ceremonies from a 
raised tribune. Bauer wondered why she had 
been called upon to assume the attributes of 
sovereignty at a time when her rightful preroga- 
tives were so bitterly contested. It was one of 
those ironies of fate of which history affords us 
so many instances. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 281 

The conversation proceeded, bearing upon 
the subject of Marie Antoinette, to which she 
seemed irresistibly attracted. She had recently 
purchased some relics of the unfortunate Queen 
whose tragic end she could not forget. " Never," 
she said, "do I walk down these stairs without 
being haunted by the memory of her, and each 
time I go out of this Palace I wonder if I shall 
ever return to it alive." Having conversed 
about the martyr Queen whom she worshipped, 
about her own fears and personal feelings, she 
referred to the date of her birth, and to the 
significant and mysterious fact that it coincided 
with that of the death of Napoleon I, who had 
passed away exactly four years before she was 
born. Remembering that Bauer had a request to 
make, and noticing the petition he held in his 
hand, she asked him what it referred to. He 
told her of the request that he had been asked to 
make of her. She took the envelope from his 
hand, placed it upon the table, and said — 

"In former times I would have said to you, 
' I promise that it shall be done.' To-day I can 
only say, ' I promise that I shall place this petition 
before the Emperor.' There my power ends. 
But let me give you some advice for the sake of 
your protégé. He must not let the Home Office 
know that I wish him promoted. If he does, 



282 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

instead of being raised from the third class to the 
second, he would be reduced to the fourth class, 
if such existed." 

Had her power dwindled to such an extent that 
she did not deem it sufficient to secure the 
promotion of a sub-sheriff? It would seem not, 
for soon afterwards that same power provoked a 
storm and caused an upheaval from the results of 
which Europe has not yet recovered. 

She chafed, and attributed the existing state of 
things to the revolutionary tendencies that pre- 
vailed, hoping that fortuitous circumstances might 
soon enable her to impose once more the yoke of 
authority upon a rebellious nation. Instead of 
this, circumstances did occur with consequences 
far different from those she wished for. 

While Napoleon was struggling against the 
jealous rivalry of political parties and individuals, 
and while the Empress was pouring forth her soul 
in ardent prayer on behalf of the Vatican, Bismarck's 
infernal power was spent in weaving a tighter web 
around the French Empire. Of this there had 
been ample warning, which only escaped the 
attention of those most interested in the question. 
To wit, the letter from the Queen of Holland, 
written on the 1 8th July, 1866. It was a strikingly 
true prophecy. 1 

1 Queen Sophia wrote : " I am sorry that you think me 
personally interested in this matter, and sorry indeed that you 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 283 

The Emperor constantly received full reports 
concerning the hurried armaments of Prussia. 
The Liberal party in Italy was grieved to see 
France gravely threatened while its Government 
and even its internal enemies, apparently as blind 
as the Government, did not appear to realize the 
danger. 1 In vain did he beseech his fellow- 
do not realize the danger of a powerful Germany and a powerful 
Italy. It is your dynasty that will suffer eventually. I say so 
because it is the truth, which you will have to recognize by and 
by. Do not think me unfair or mistrustful because of the fate 
which has overcome me in my own country. When Venice 
had to be ceded, you should have helped Austria, proceeded 
towards the Rhine, and there and then imposed your conditions. 
To have allowed Austria to be estranged was worse than a 
crime. It was a mistake." 

1 In truth, the Opposition was as much to blame as the 
Imperial party. Both parties seem to have been affected by the 
same blindness, and must be made to share the responsibility 
of the misfortunes to which it gave rise. History has showered 
praises upon Thiers for his foresight during the war of the 
Duchies and on the eve of the Austro-Hungarian conflict. 
But when Marshal Niel, speaking in the name of the Emperor, 
informed the representatives of the Nations of the dangers 
accruing from Prussian armaments, Thiers made light of the 
whole matter, and deprecated the idea of increasing the military 
power of France, though by so doing he would have enabled 
her to repel a possible invasion. With the exception of a few 
writers such as Nefftzer, no one seemed to see the real peril 
contained in the foreign policy of France. If such peril was 
mentioned at all, it was as an excuse for attacking the Empire, 
just as if the peaceful occupiers of the Tuileries were the only 
enemies that France had to fear. The Chamber of Deputies 
ruthlessly cut down all military expenses. " The hour is near at 
hand," said Nefftzer to Pelletan. " Germany is ready. Such 
unconscious treason as I witness will cause my death." 



284 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

countrymen to be prudent. In vain did General 
Tiirr travel from Vienna to Rome and from 
Rome to Paris. A useful alliance was rejected, 
because it might have saddened the Holy Father. 
Eugénie had plainly stated to Nigra the Am- 
bassador that she would oppose with all her 
might any understanding with Italy by which 
the Pope would be sacrificed. What she called 
•'sacrificed" on the one hand and "spoliation" 
on the other was really but the natural progress 
of Italy's destiny, which compelled her to reassume 
possession of her capital. 

Austria, with the help of Hungary, conceived 
great projects, the realization of which would 
have enabled France to escape from her isolation 
and to confront her ambitious and troublesome 
neighbour. General Tiirr was entrusted with a 
special mission. In January 1870 he approached 



The annual contingent had been reduced to sixty thousand 
men, and members of the Extreme Left considered that number 
excessive. Jules Favre and Pelletan demanded the abolition 
of the permanent army, saying that it was a menace to Liberty. 
" You poor French," wrote a Bavarian to one of his Parisian 
friends, " poor French ! You do not see what Bismarck is hatch- 
ing with that hatred and contempt for you which he thus 
expresses loudly to his intimate friends. We are well served 
by Napoleon III, who believes all we say, by his diplomatists, 
who do not mistrust us, and the Opposition, which fears one 
danger only, the political danger." The Bavarian added, 
" You are rushing headlong, like lunatics rushing to defeat and 
invasion." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 285 

Napoleon 1 1 1 and suggested a closer understand- 
ing between Italy, Austria and France. Better 
acquainted than any one with the designs of 
Bismarck, he possessed strong arguments. His 
intimate relations with the German Chancellor 
while the Roman question was discussed had 
afforded him an insight into his most secret 
combinations. At first he thought he had been 
understood, and he lost no time in informing 
Victor Emmanuel of the progress which he 
believed he had made. He returned to Vienna, 
where he saw Count Beust, and proceeded to 
Budapest, knowing beforehand that he would 
receive the full assent of Hungary. It seemed as 
though he had secured the adherence of France 
to a strong alliance, which would guarantee the 
peace of Europe by checking the threatening 
progress of Prussia. Tiirr inwardly rejoiced at 
the success of his diplomatic efforts. He had 
reckoned, however, without the weakness of the 
Emperor and the opposition of the Empress. 
He made fresh efforts. Since France did not 
wish to increase her military expenditure, to 
fortify her offensive and defensive power, he could 
hesitate no longer. He knew that the head of 
the State and the French Minister for War had 
themselves to contend with the opposition of the 
Chamber, and all the while alliances were 
urgently needed. The Emperor went on dream- 



286 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

ing between heaven and earth, dreaming of 
pontifical Rome, and apprehending discussions 
with the Empress on a subject that was to prove 
fatal to his reign. He was ill, and could not come 
to a decision, while Eugénie, on the contrary, 
contended that the Conventions of this triple 
alliance were inadmissible, and that by joining 
hands with Italy against the Papacy he would 
bring a curse upon his Empire. Never had State 
interests been more lightly sacrificed to religious 
scruples. Negotiations were broken off. As he left, 
Tiirr exclaimed, "If the French are beaten, if 
France is soon ruined, let her know that she owes 
her defeat to the Pope." On the plea that he 
could not be false to the promise he had given to 
the Pope, Napoleon refused Victor Emmanuel's 
offer of help. He had neglected to avail himself 
of the kindly feelings of Alexander II, who meant 
to intervene against Germany as soon as France 
had rescinded one clause of the Treaty of Paris 
relating to the neutralization of the Black Sea. 
Napoleon now stood alone. His weak, diffuse 
and wavering policy was about to bear its dire 
fruits. 



CHAPTER IX 

Waning days of happiness— A thunderbolt in a blue sky— Spain 
Prussia and France — Influence exercised by Eugénie in 
these bellicose incitements — Towards the Rhenish frontiers — 
A characteristic anecdote— Spoken testimony of Emile Olliyier 
— Extra-ministerial Council at Saint-Cloud : result of Eugenie's 
interference — Hurried events — Impressions produced on the 
brilliant gathering at Saint-Cloud by the news [of the war — 
Detailed description by an eye-witness — Departure from this 
enchanting residence — The Emperor at Metz — The Empress 
at the Tuileries — Three weeks of regency and of daily anxiety 
— Supreme catastrophe — The fears for the morrow — Help 
needed for the Empress — A touching episode — Riots at the 
gates of the Palace — Eugenie's departure— The parts played 
by Metternich and Nigra on that occasion — Doubts and sus- 
picions to which they gave rise — At the house of Dr. Evans — 
Vicissitudes of the journey from Paris to Deauville and from 
Deauville to England — Chislehurst — Precarious position of the 
exiles — A midnight removal from the Tuileries in the interests 
of the Empress— Consecutive trips to Camden Place — De- 
scriptions of this property — Was it only to afford a temporary 
residence for the exiles ? 

The poet says, "When winter has frozen the 
surface of the stream, one can still see through 
the ice the floating, quivering fragments of summer 
days." The first months of 1870 provided some 
warmth and brightness that made one look for- 
ward to happier days. A supreme ray of hope 
shone forth on the dawn of this year of suffering. 
The one question asked was whether the 
Emperor was still possessed of a will. Suddenly, 
as if in reply to it, an unknown spring seemed 
287 



288 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to have galvanized his fading energy. Through 
lassitude or opportunism, or for the sake of 
novelty, he had abdicated the exercise of a will 
uncontrolled. Public opinion had raised him to 
the height of a constitutional Augustus, and 
unexpected proofs of confidence were afforded 
to so much wisdom and prudence. 

A very heated altercation had taken place at 
the Tuileries when the plebiscite was declared. As 
soon as the results of the Ballots in Paris, Lyons, 
Marseilles, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne 
became known, a sense of fear overcame the 
custodians of the throne. The Empress was ever 
hostile to liberal reforms, which she deemed ex- 
cessive and imprudent. She showed her keen 
dissatisfaction. The young Prince shared his 
mother's views, and with all the exuberance of 
his age he exhibited signs of violent temper. 
Their followers were indignant at the ingratitude 
and the defection of the country. Napoleon III, 
steeled by experience, calmly awaited the revenge 
which the conservative instinct of the country 
boroughs would afford him. Suddenly, things 
looked much brighter. The general results from 
these boroughs had upset the calculations of the 
Opposition. An enormous majority of votes was 
recorded in favour of the throne. The plebiscite 
meant a new lease of life that would last as long 
as the Emperor preserved peace. All fears were 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 289 

banished. The Empress laughed at the ap- 
prehensions she had indulged in. The Ministers 
proceeded with the elaboration of their great pro- 
gramme. The Prince resumed his studies and his 
games. Serene and unctuous words were spoken 
to the nation from the official tribune. 

" Whichever way one looks, one fails to find any 
question that might cause irritation, and never has 
peace been more completely assured." 

So everything was for the best. During the 
previous summer the Prince Imperial had met 
with signal success at the camp of Chalons, 
to the delight of his mother and his friends. 
The public Press re-echoed the praises showered 
upon him at the review. There he had given 
proof of so much self-possession and dignity 
before the assembled Army that he looked the 
very reincarnation of his father. The Empire 
never knew a more peaceful month than that of 
June 1870. A few days later, the thunderbolt 
was to fall, setting fire to the edifice, and 
bringing it down with a crash. We have 
already shown that its advent had been foreseen 
for a long time. 

It was much to be regretted that, owing to the 
strained relations existing between the Empress 
and Prince Napoleon, he should have been com- 
pelled to keep aloof from the counsels of the 
Emperor. He had given proof of acute pre- 



2 9 o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

science concerning the impending storm. In 
1868, on his way through Munich, he dined with 
Prince Hohenlohe, Louis IPs Prime Minister, 
and broached the burning subject of a con- 
flict between France and Prussia. Hohenlohe 
expressed his surprise at the imprudence of Paris 
in fomenting this war. Jérôme Napoleon replied 
that this was but a sign of the natural turbulence 
of the French character. Great was the con- 
fusion in public affairs. Instead of awaiting the 
opportune hour, as did Germany, France thought 
that all her difficulties would be ended by a war 
the favourable result of which was not questioned 
for a moment, while its risks and cruel surprises 
were completely ignored. 

Jérôme said, " Personally I consider the war 
will be an immense misfortune, a calamity that 
should be avoided at any cost. It is bound to 
have fatal results, from which you Bavarians will 
be the first to suffer. German unity will be 
accomplished to the advantage of Prussia. You 
have therefore every reason to wish for peace." 

Soon afterwards Bismarck said to Hohenlohe, 
" A war would tell in favour of Prussia because 
France is not ready. An alliance between Italy 
and France would now be valueless. The Italians 
would not move even if Victor Emmanuel, who 
would do anything for money, were to conclude a 
treaty with Napoleon." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 291 

He was well informed. The agents of his 
secret diplomacy promoted his plans in Rome, 
Paris and Madrid. They kept him fully posted 
upon the views of Italian statesmen, especially of 
the leaders of the Left, such as Crispi, who was 
even then his accomplice. 

The awful crisis began on the 3rd July, 1870, 
when General Prim informed Europe of the 
choice of a Hohenzollern Prince as candidate 
to the throne of Spain. Forthwith Emilio 
Castelar wrote thus to one of his friends of the 
Liberal party in Paris : " Beware, for this candi- 
dature is wrought with danger for France." A 
swift and brutal corroboration of this was near 
at hand. 

What part did Eugénie play in the incitements 
which made the war of 1870 an unavoidable one ? 
The question has often been asked, but never solved 
with any regard to the truth. As soon as she 
ascended the throne she had manifested the wish 
that a victory might restore to France her natural 
frontier, the Rhine. The following unpublished 
anecdote affords proof of this : An Alsatian 
journalist, Charles Muller, formerly attached to 
the Indépendance de l'Ouest et de Laval, a Mayenne 
paper, had come to Paris, there to found an 
organ, La Liberté. His policy was to preach the 
restoration of the Rhenish frontier. He was full 
of zeal but short of money, and his paper was 



2 9 2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

doomed to early failure. Knowing that the 
Empress shared his views, he had asked one of 
the Chamberlains at Court to obtain the promise 
of her support in the shape of a subvention. 
The Empress did not like to discuss politics save 
with politicians. A deputy of the Mayenne ap- 
proached her. A few days later he reported in 
the following sense to the founder of La Liberté — 
11 1 have seen the Empress, and this is word for 
word what she said to me: ' Such aspirations meet 
with my full approval. But as the Emperor does 
not seem inclined to foster them, I cannot obtain 
an official subvention for the paper. I wish, 
however, to prove my good-will to Muller, and 
would therefore ask you to hand him this sum as 
a present from me.' " She sent him ten thousand 
francs. She often referred in conversation to the 
frontier question. She observed the frequent and 
important annexations made by Prussia on the 
other side of the great river, and deplored that 
France did not raise her voice sufficiently loudly 
to be heard, and that she did not even insist upon 
her share of the spoils. She laboured under the 
influence of an obstinate aspiration more than of 
a firm resolution. In 1870 she prayed for the 
success of a campaign, the epilogue of which 
would cement the abolition of a Parliamentary 
Empire and the resumption of the Cœsarian 
Constitution of 1852. But as a matter of fact 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 293 

she had no effective hand in the determining 
causes of the conflict. I mean to imply that she 
did not directly bring it about. She inspired a 
diplomatic act, however, which under existing 
circumstances was equivalent to a declaration of 
war. She advised it most imprudently at a time 
when a condition so fraught with snares and 
pitfalls should have claimed the utmost coolness 
and circumspection. 

In Government circles the news that the King 
of Prussia had approved of the withdrawal of the 
candidature of Prince Leopold was hailed with the 
greatest delight. Immediate peril was averted. 
Emile Ollivier said to Thiers, M Let us remain 
quiet. We now have secured peace, and must not 
lose it." The Emperor forthwith warned General 
Bourbaki in the following terms : " You need not 
prepare your war equipments, for the withdrawal 
of Prince Hohenlohe has removed all cause of 
rupture." But the Sovereign and his Minister 
reckoned without the bellicose party of the 
Empress, ever eager " to; drown this Government 
composed of lawyers " in the waters of the Rhine. 
The war party had not disarmed. When Bourbaki 
became aware that a peaceful solution was likely, 
he exclaimed, " What a pity ; I should have liked 
to accompany the Emperor to Berlin at the head 
of my Guards." These words had struck deep 
into the heart of the ambitious heart of the 



2 9 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Empress. Conciliation and prudent measures 
were ignored. They might have averted the 
danger. An extraordinary meeting of the Council 
at Saint-Cloud brought about the climax. Gramont 
and the zealous members of the Imperialist Right, 
known as the " Wrong Right," were summoned to 
it at the instigation of Eugénie. The President of 
the Council, Emile Ollivier, and the other members 
of the Government had not been invited to attend. 
The situation, hitherto so clouded, had become 
brighter, but the signs of general appeasement 
were not deemed sufficient. Forgetting that she 
was widening the breach, the Empress urged the 
Duke de Gramont to exact more, and to obtain 
from William the written proof of his good inten- 
tions, the famous letter of guarantee. Gramont, 
a man of dangerous and impetuous nature, was 
only too pleased to follow her instructions. He 
had good cause to regret it if it be true that he 
spoke the following words in 1890 to the writer 
Arsène Houssaye : " I was wrong to be a gallant 
man towards the Empress instead of proving 
myself a gallant man towards France." On the 
evening of the 12th the Minister dispatched a 
telegram by which he informed the French 
Ambassador of the new claims of his Govern- 
ment. Thus he called upon the King of Prussia 
to fall back, to effect a retreat, which Wilhelm 
naturally refused to do. As the Council of 







RH 




B^ 




1 ' ■ 


^^r * 


J 







prin'Cess Leopold oy hohexzollern. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 295 

Ministers had not been informed of the measures 
taken at Saint-Cloud, it could not approve of them. 
I learnt from Emile Ollivier himself, thirty-six 
years after these terrible events, that the Cabinet 
decided not to make a casus belli of the refusal 
to give this guarantee. The Ministers decided 
that the incident should be considered at an end 
until such time as a better opportunity might occur 
for fiorhtin^ a duel that now seemed inevitable. 

On the 13th July everything seemed to be 
settled. The Emperor breathed freely, as one 
who had thrown off a terrible load. Physically 
weakened, morally depressed, he could at last hope 
for some rest and perhaps for a complete cure. 1 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs seemed sud- 
denly frightened by the consequences of his rash 
acts, and he tried to pull up on the brink of the 
precipice. He had suggested a referendum to a 
Congress as the only means of extinguishing the 
fire kindled by his own hands. The Emperor 
eagerly adopted this suggestion, for his one idea 
was to avoid trouble. On the 13th he wrote a 

1 His increasing weakness was noticed by all around him. 
They had seen him shudder on a very warm day, and they knew 
that in midsummer he had ordered fires to be lighted in his 
apartments. 

On the 3rd July a medical consultation was held at the 
Castle, as a result of which it was decided to operate upon him 
without delay. It was not surprising that many questioned 
whether the wishes quoted as his were really ever expressed 
by him. 



296 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

note to Marshal Lebceuf in which he deplored 
that on the previous day it had been decided to 
mobilise, adding that such a serious step could 
have been avoided. It expressed the wish that 
the Legislative Council should be apprised forth- 
with of the proposed appeal to a Congress. The 
impact would thus be postponed for one day and 
averted thereby. 

On the 14th the Emperor returned from the 
Tuileries to Saint-Cloud, where his courtiers 
listened with dismay to his conciliatory remarks, 
which greatly damped their bellicose ardour. 

Then occurred a solemn halt in the course of 
this strange and tragic adventure. Monsieur de 
Piennes, chamberlain to the Empress, related the 
incident to Marshal MacMahon, who in turn re- 
peated it on the 2nd April, 1890, to a late Minister. 
Monsieur Grivart de Kerstat, his son, has favoured 
us with the memorandum of his father's con- 
versation, the gist of which we append. 

The time had been reached when the fate of 
two great nations was at stake. 

The Emperor came through a drawing-room 
where the Empress was seated with Monsieur de 
Piennes. He was on his way to the Council 
Chamber and stopped to read to the Empress the 
speech he had composed in a most peaceful note. 
She listened with eyebrows knit, and when the 
reading was concluded, she shook her head dis- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 297 

approvingly, and accompanied her husband to the 
meeting of the Council. The Emperor repeated to 
his assembled ministers the words which Eugénie 
had just heard. He was about to take the votes 
which he knew beforehand would be given in his 
favour, when he fainted and had to be removed from 
the Chamber. When he returned half-an-hour 
later, his ministers had changed their minds. The 
Empress had had time to influence them, and as a 
result, the war was voted by a majority of four. She 
justified her wish to precipitate events by quoting 
the telegrams received by her from Gramont, who 
informed her that the King had practically dis- 
missed the French Ambassador, that the demands 
of Bismarck were becoming more and more pre- 
posterous, and that Prussia considered herself 
entitled to exact an apology from France. 

MacMahon proceeded to analyse the trend of 
the Empress's mind for the benefit of his hearer, 
twenty years after these events had occurred. 
11 The main idea of the Empress was that the 
endorsement of the home policy of Emile Ollivier 
was fraught with danger to the Empire, and that 
a war would produce a diversion that would save 
the situation. In her opinion two or three weeks 
would suffice to provide France with numerous 
victories, when peace would be concluded. The 
Emperor, once more in possession of his prestige, 
could then safely withdraw certain concessions 



29 8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

which he had granted. The advisers of the 
Empress had made a present of so valuable a 
trump card to Prussia, that Bismarck was not the 
man to neglect playing it. He sent the famous 
Elms dispatch, truncated, mutilated and disfigured. 
It was a slap in the face of France. What could 
be done in such a case, but send one's seconds to 
challenge the offender? This meant war, to be 
followed by invasion. 

At the first clash of arms, Lord Granville had 
proffered British mediation. But his advice was 
ignored, as had been the advice of Lord Lyons 
and of Thiers. In reply to his offer, the Tuileries 
Cabinet hesitated and felt its way. All negotiations 
became useless. 

The old system of alliances upon which the 
peace of Europe depended was broken, the 
equilibrium upset for the benefit of Germany, and 
international rights torn to shreds. The British 
Cabinet, which had endeavoured in vain to step in 
between Berlin and Paris, and had been slighted 
through the extraordinary infatuation of the Im- 
perial Government, had now no other object than 
to circumscribe the war by preventing other 
Powers from helping France. 1 

1 The conditions of things had indeed changed. In former 
times every threatening influence in Europe was confronted and 
checkmated by suspicious England. Henry VIII, aided by 
Francis I, opposed Charles V ; Elizabeth sought and found the 
help of Henry IV against the House of Austria ; William of 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 299 

The adversaries stood face to face, but the con- 
test was indeed an uneven one. 

The Emperor, the Empress, and their Ministers 
had made a grievous blunder. They were not 
the only ones who were blinded. The miscon- 
ception of the state of affairs was general. With 
the exception of a few intellectuals who for some 
years past had clearly beheld the Empire rushing 
headlong to a catastrophe, every Frenchman of 
exalted or of modest birth endorsed the respon- 
sibility of this disastrous conflagration. Public 
opinion, which had formerly opposed the plan of a 
serious reorganization of the Army and had insisted 
willy-nilly upon the necessity of reducing the 
military expenditure, now heralded suggestions of 
victory and of conquest on the borders of the 
Rhine, forgetting that French troops lacked 
effective strength because they had been denied 
the means of fostering it. Their fate had to be 
accomplished. The Empress was superstitious 
and the Emperor a fatalist. Before the inevitable 
clash of arms occurred, they both wished to consult 
a fortune-teller who was brought to the Tuileries. 
Even this did not protect them against their 
destiny. 

Orange fought Louis XIV while Pitt called on the whole of 
Europe to crush Napoleon. In 1870 Great Britain followed 
a policy of complete and systematic abstention, absorbed as 
she was by her commerce, her material prosperity, and her 
industrial development at home and abroad. 



Cîbîî 

or the 
UNIVERSITY 



3 oo THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Napoleon was ill, isolated in Europe, and 
unprovided with men or war material, yet he 
declared war with that same incredible want of 
logic which urged Prussia to attack the conqueror 
of Europe in 1806, without the help of an ally, 
after hesitating to join Austria and Russia against 
him in 1805. The Prussia of 1806 and the France 
of 1870 were like one another, as like as two 
inimical sisters might be. The army of Frederick 
William, like that of Napoleon III, had only an 
outward appearance sufficient to stand the test of 
a review or a march past, but she filled Berlin with 
her boastful vapourings. In 1870, Paris beheld 
a similar military party, disorganized and very 
rowdy. Like Frederick William, Napoleon III 
feared defeat. Both were confronted by the same 
dilemma : they must continue to reign with honour 
or forfeit a crown. To make the likeness more 
faithful, there was a Queen of Prussia akin to the 
Empress in France, who urged her country to 
extreme measures with all earnestness. Paris 
might have repeated the famous line of Sorel, 
"Armidia in her madness, thrice set fire to her 
own palace." 

The Court had settled at Saint-Cloud sooner 
than usual, as the Emperor and the Empress had 
expressed the wish to reside there during June 
and July. Eugenie's nieces, the daughters of her 
sister, the late Duchess of Alba, were staying 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 301 

with her, and she did her best to afford them such 
distractions as she could devise in this enchanting 
residence. A feeling of stupor overcame this 
brilliant assembly of guests when games, pas- 
times and amusements were suddenly interrupted 
by the news that diplomatic relations had been 
broken off with the King of Prussia, and that war 
was declared. Those who had no immediate 
cause for alarm soon recovered from the effects of 
the blow, and shouted eagerly so as to trick them- 
selves into enthusiasm. Politicians and courtiers, 
who gathered round the Empress at this critical 
moment, thought they were quite safe. They 
considered that their personal positions could 
not be shaken, and this caused them to display 
all the more ardour in their patriotic demonstra- 
tions. 

This ardour had not yet subsided at one of the 
last dinners given at Saint-Cloud at the cost of 
the Emperor's civil list. Napoleon III was evi- 
dently suffering intensely, and remained more 
silent than usual. His looks betokened sadness 
and anxiety. Eugénie endeavoured to inspire 
confidence, wishing that she herself might become 
imbued with it. The guests were weighed down 
by a feeling of uneasiness which they could not 
shake off. Suddenly a rumour — in no way official, 
but contained in a private telegram — was reported 
to His Majesty. This alone proved how relaxed 



302 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

had become the observance of the rules of 
etiquette, owing no doubt to the gravity of the 
circumstances. The telegram was read aloud. 
French scouts had made contact with a 
German patrol, and sharp-shooting had been in- 
dulged in. The enemy, severely mauled, had had 
to cross the frontier hurriedly. The casualties 
of the French detachment were five dead and 
eleven wounded, and those of the Germans four 
times as many. The news of a great victory 
could not have caused more joy than that of this 
little skirmish. The Empress, with ingenuous 
spontaneity, underlined every word of it with 
exclamations, " The enemy " (which meant a few 
men) " have fallen back across the frontier. But 
then we have won." Those present congratulated 
one another upon this happy augury of a success- 
ful campaign. No one thought of pitying the 
first victims of this barbarous fatality, which 
urges men to attack each other without being 
impelled to do so by mutual hatred. This is 
war! 

Great joy filled every heart. One of the guests 
of this occasion tells us that a delightful evening 
was spent in the freshness of the park and its 
fragrant bowers, while the Prince Imperial and 
some young companions of his sang the " Marseil- 
laise." 

Forgetting his sufferings and overcoming his 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 303 

depression, the Emperor took a short walk with 
a high official who knew a great deal about Ger- 
many, having resided there for years. Napoleon 
questioned him as to the sentiments of the Rhenish 
populations, and asked him if he did not think 
that the fact of their being mainly Catholic would 
induce them to secede from a Protestant country 
and throw in their lot with a conqueror belonging 
to their faith. His friend replied that if such 
hopes depended upon the results of a plebiscite 
they would prove chimerical. The Emperor 
paused a while, tracing a map of Europe upon 
the gravel. He then expressed the following 
thoughts, which were not justified by the course 
of future events — 

" On this side we are guaranteed by the 
neutrality of Belgium and Switzerland, but on the 
other the road is exposed to German invasion. It 
is there that we shall have to create a buffer state 
which we shall call a German Belgium." Then, 
wishing to prove that he cherished no ideas of 
conquest as a result of the war he had undertaken 
against his will, he added — 

" I shall never annex by force populations that 
do not wish to become French. I do not want 
to create another Poland. I have given proof of 
my views on this subject when dealing with Nice 
and Savoy." 

The Empress was not present during this 



3 04 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

conversation, for she had retired early, wishing to 
partake of communion the next day. Whenever 
she was overtaken by sadness or misfortune, her 
devotion seemed sensibly increased. 

For the nonce, her ideas were in the ascendant. 
Soon she hoped to witness the end of a war 
which was inevitable, feeling sure that it would 
be as glorious as the Crimean campaign, and as 
swift as that against Austria. Happy days were 
in store for her dynasty, and with this conviction 
she stood again in a prominent position before 
the footlights of politics. Her power would soon 
be great enough to enable her to alter certain 
decisions that had been come to in case war 
broke out. These decisions bore upon the part 
to be played by Napoleon III, and upon the 
disposition of the different army corps. She urged 
him to assume command of the army of the Rhine. 
It is but fair to add that the Emperor's physicians 
had not acquainted her with the gravity of his 
condition, and that she did not suspect it, for 
Napoleon heroically bore without a murmur the 
untold sufferings caused by stone. Before starting 
for the Eastern frontier, so often steeped in the 
blood of the invader, he had entrusted to General 
Lepic the care of the Empress and of the Tuileries. 
The old soldier complained bitterly at not being 
allowed to share the perils of the campaign, but 
Napoleon endeavoured to comfort him by saying 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 305 

that the position assigned to him might prove 
more dangerous than service in the field. Gloomy 
presentiments filled the soul of Napoleon III. The 
Count left Saint- Cloud on the morrow of the sad 
defeat of Wissembourg. Eugénie returned to the 
Tuileries. General Lepic took up his quarters in 
the apartments of the Prince Imperial, between 
the Pavilion of Flora and that of the Horloge. 
The look of the place had altered. Dispatch 
followed dispatch, bearing explanations and bad 
news. To hold them back, to give to them a 
meaning they did not convey, to curtail their 
sense, was the one object of the officials. The 
officers of the household and the high dignitaries 
assumed an air of indifference or of mystery, and 
endeavoured not to see or understand the gravity 
of the situation. At the same time, narrow 
egotisms, petty and jealous ambitions took um- 
brage at seeing signs of devotion and self-sacrifice 
in others, and tried to prevent such cases from 
coming to light. A witness at Court has described 
these officials, and these phantoms of the last 
days of the Tuileries, spreading good or bad 
reports, fear or hope alternately, according to 
the turn taken by succeeding events. Their one 
care was to rescue their goods and chattels from 
a tottering building. 

There were signs of peril, of the impending 
sauve-qui-peut. 



3 o6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Eugénie proved herself courageous and deter- 
mined in the midst of all this confusion. 

She had yearned for the opportunity of exer- 
cising her power. From 1853 to 1870 she had 
only played an intermittent part in the affairs of 
the State. She was now called upon to exercise 
an effective regency in troubled times, and under 
very trying circumstances. She threw herself 
into her work with ardour, endeavouring to atone 
for past mistakes by rising to the height of a 
position worthy of testing the greatest courage. 
Withal she displayed the greatest dignity. In 
August 1870, when illusions were still permissible, 
Mérimée wrote to his friend Panizzi — 

11 The Empress is admirable. She conceals 
nothing, but displays heroic calmness by an effort 
which costs her dearly, I am sure." One thing is 
certain. The idea never struck her of saving 
herself from the results of a crushing catastrophe, 
against a definite downfall. Was it because she 
did not foresee such rapid and formidable con- 
sequences of events, or because her mind was 
completely absorbed in the discharge of her duties ? 
Whatever the cause, she did not seem to reckon 
with a disastrous future near at hand. Her friends 
watched over her. One of them, whose devotion 
was well known to her, had suggested that in case 
of extreme danger he should act as her body- 
guard. With this intention he sent her a con- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 307 

fidential message asking for an audience, which 
was granted on the 27th August, before the fall of 
Sedan. As the envoy was ushered in, Eugénie 
held a telegram in one hand and a handkerchief 
in the other. She was sobbing. She handed 
him the telegram containing the desperate but 
energetic statement of the commander of the 
frontier forts — 

" We shall hold out until the last, and the last 
man shall be blown up with the forts." 

Certain deep emotions are best conveyed with- 
out words. The object of his visit had, however, 
to be discussed. 

" I beg of your Majesty," said the visitor, "to 
forgive me if the subject of my visit is so little in 
accord with so much heroism, but I must fulfil my 
mission." 

" What is it ? Speak ! " 

" Madame, it is not easy to discuss a question of 
money when one has just been afforded an example 
of heroic self-sacrifice bordering on madness." 

" A question of money, did you say ? What, 
at such a juncture ? " 

"It is because of the gravity of the juncture 
that I have to mention money." 

" But who has sent you ?" On hearing the 
name of her well-wisher, she exclaimed, "He 
is a true friend and a noble soul ! Pray pro- 
ceed." 



3 o8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

She invited him to be seated, for he had 
remained standing since the beginning of the 
interview. 

" Madame, nothing is lost. Everything can 
yet be saved ; but it is indispensable to survey 
eventualities with the greatest calmness. To 
prepare for a retreat does not necessarily mean 
to despair of victory, but merely to secure the 
morrow's bivouac." 

She listened with surprise, and did not seem to 
understand. 

" Well, Madame, the friend whose noble senti- 
ments and devotion are well known to you, has 
bade me ask if your Majesty has taken the 
precaution to place her personal property, her 
jewels, valuables, securities, in safe keeping. I 
am to add that if your Majesty feels inclined 
to do so, your devoted friend places himself at 
your disposal, as his position enables him to act 
both swiftly and efficaciously." 

For several minutes she remained silent, 
motionless, and deeply moved, as she made an 
effort to regain her calmness. She spoke in 
trembling voice words that history will be 
pleased to remember, because they were uttered 
so sincerely — 

" Tell him that I thank him from the bottom 
of my heart, but that under present circumstances 
I shall never consent to remove a tittle of the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 309 

national funds or of my own fortune in order to 
send the proceeds abroad." 

She had, alas ! to do so later, and it was from 
abroad that she had to write claiming what she 
then refused to store away in safety. 

The messenger insisted in vain, invoking the 
interests of the Emperor and those of the Prince. 
He went further, and, taking from his pocket a 
deed that had been drafted in advance, he placed 
it before the Empress and made a supreme appeal 
to her. 

" Madame, for Heaven's sake sign this. It will 
be sufficient." 

Eugénie took the document, tore it up, and 
handed the pieces of it to the envoy. Her 
refusal spelt courage and determination. 

Clouds were gathering fast upon the horizon. 
The three weeks that elapsed between Napoleon's 
departure for Metz and the fatal September 4th 
were one long agony. The die was cast ! She 
now realized the horror of the situation. She 
had been informed quite frankly of the impossi- 
bility of snatching a victory on the Rhine. 
France had deceived herself, lulled to sleep 
in chimerical dreams. She was short of 
men, commissariat and ammunition. Eugénie 
betrayed no hesitation, and clung to hope. As 
was her wont, she decided and acted in accord- 
ance with the spontaneous dictates of her nature. 



3io THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

She was less inclined to listen to reason than to 
the impulses of her proud nature, for she had 
schooled herself to the conviction that Napoleon 
could not return to Paris before securing a victory. 
She could not even harbour the idea of his being 
beaten back to his capital. She said so to all, 
and wrote it to the Emperor in energetic terms — 
"If you come back defeated, a revolution will 
ensue." This was what she telegraphed to the 
unfortunate Sovereign whose authority was merely 
nominal, and who, thanks to the regency, had now 
to follow his troops instead of leading them. 

Emile Ollivier (the President of the Council) 
did not share her views. He felt that such a 
determination would hasten a revolution and 
precipitate the downfall of the Empire. He 
insisted upon the inadvisability of a resistance 
to the death. Eugénie brought about his down- 
fall by pitting her friends and the left centre 
against him. Wise folk held that while France 
still possessed an army around Metz and a power- 
ful reserve at Chalons, it would be wise to lead 
these troops on to Paris for its protection. But 
MacMahon, whose plan it was to fall back upon 
the Seine, had to obey orders given by 
political authorities. Urged to execute his plan 
by the receipt of a telegram from Bazaine stating 
that he would meet him half way, he had begun 
the march to the north-east, that fatal march which 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 311 

hurled him into the abyss of Sedan, instead of 
effecting the meeting of the two army corps. 
The incredible defeat of the 3rd September cost 
Napoleon his crown. The Empress was driven 
to desperate decisions, caring little whether they 
were constitutional or not. What mattered if 
she did transgress her legal rights as Regent, 
when our lines had been forced, our country 
invaded, the head of the State defeated, without 
prestige, without moral force, without a command, 
and therefore deprived of the means of executing 
his plans ! 1 

1 One evening, at Chislehurst, Napoleon III proceeded to 
sum up in writing the consequences of his misfortune. He en- 
deavoured to lessen the weight of his own responsibility for the 
cause that had produced it. He drew up a veritable indictment 
against the regency. Here is the manuscript note which he con- 
fided to Count de la Chapelle. " When going to the front, the 
Emperor established a regency, thinking that from head-quarters 
he could still keep a hand upon the helm of the State. 
According to the precedents of the First Empire, the regency 
should only have taken practical effect the moment the 
Emperor left the French territory. This was what occurred in 
1859, during the campaign of Italy. But in 1870 the regency 
assumed the reins of government as soon as the Emperor left 
Paris, and though letters patent had only conferred constricted 
powers upon the Empress, the fact of her presiding over a 
Cabinet declared responsible by the Constitution, set up two 
Governments instead of one. One seat of government was 
with the army and possessed all the attributes of sovereign power 
but none of the legal means for exercising it, while the other in 
Paris was composed of all the depositories of authority, though 
bereft of the prerogative of power. 

" The Regent had a responsible Cabinet but could not 



3i2 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

A Government crisis was at hand. No one was 
in power. In convening the Chambers without 
consulting the Emperor, now a prisoner who had 
lost control of the mainsprings of Government, the 
Empress did not remember that she was slighting 
her husband and his advisers. As the ship of State 
was sinking she hung on desperately to its last 
wreckage. She had hoped that a glimmer of inspira- 
tion, that salvation might result from the meeting 
of these men. Alas ! it was too late. The invasion 
of the Corps Législatif had nullified the proposal 
of Thiers to the effect that a committee of defence 



exercise the right to summon or dismiss Ministers, to make a 
military or a civil appointment, or to exercise the right of 
pardon. 

"The Chambers were summoned without the Emperor's 
consent, and Parliament could not be legally summoned unless 
by a decree bearing the Emperor's signature. To convene the 
Chamber after military defeats was tantamount in France to 
hailing a revolution, for when public disasters occur human 
passions obtain the upper hand. The reverses sustained by the 
nation afforded the opposition ample chances for increasing its 
influence, and, far from upholding the Government from motives 
of patriotism, its political adversaries used every effort to bring 
about its downfall. The defeat of the Ollivier Cabinet and the 
formation of a new Ministry were the immediate consequences 
of the first meeting of the legislative body. The new Ministers 
were unconstitutionally appointed without the consent of the 
Emperor, and as soon as they assumed office they were compelled 
by public pressure to fill all vacancies, to appoint generals-in- 
chief, in a word, to decide every question without appealing to 
the Emperor." (Manuscript notes of La Chapelle.) But was 
there still an Emperor? 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 313 

chosen among the members of the assembly 
should be forthwith constituted. All that was 
left of the Imperial régime was blown to the 
winds by the mighty impetus of the Revolution. 

Riotous meetings in the streets, the angry 
noise of which was re-echoed by the walls of 
the Palace, caused grave apprehension at the 
Tuileries. Through fear of a night attack, the 
guard had been reinforced, and the night of the 
3rd was spent in fear and trembling. The arrival 
of a deputy, or of some official bearing tidings 
of the parliamentary debate, was awaited with 
feverish anxiety. The hours seemed intermin- 
able, but no one came. Silence reigned in the 
deserted Palace during the early hours of the morn- 
ing. At two o'clock Madame de Selves announced 
the proclamation of the Republic. Every minute 
became more precious. What should be done ? 
Hurried plans were formulated by Eugénie. To 
offer resistance to the rioters, to appeal to the 
generosity of the country, to ride through the 
streets of Paris, and thus effect by courage a 
complete revulsion of feeling in their favour — 
Eugénie thought of one and all of those mea- 
sures. She was so unpopular, however, that 
public opinion would hardly have espoused her 
cause, whichever plan she had adopted. The 
popular wave was about to swamp the 
Imperial apartments. Two foreigners, Metternich 



3H THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

and Nigra, Ambassadors of Austria and Italy, 
prevailed upon her to leave the Tuileries and fly 
from France. Knowingly or not, they thus 
greatly facilitated the task of diplomacy. There 
was no more Sovereign, no more Regent at the 
Tuileries, so their respective Governments were 
thus absolved of such promises as might have been 
given, and at any rate of all compulsion to help the 
absent ones. The last words spoken by Eugénie 
to those who gathered round her and kissed her 
hand were indeed pathetic. " In France no one 
has the right to be unfortunate." Many more or 
less accurate accounts have been given of her 
flight. She threw a dark mantle over her shoul- 
ders, and feverishly tied the strings of a black 
bonnet under her chin. In her reticule she 
hurriedly put a purse, a handkerchief and a 
note-book, and, leaning on the arm of Prince 
Metternich, she cast a longing look at the 
apartments in which she had held sway for 
seventeen years. Admiral Jurien de la Gravière 
had placed the Imperial refugee under the protec- 
tion of the representatives of two European Powers. 
Had not Metternich firmly declared, " I answer 
for everything " ? The course of this historic flight 
is well known. It had been decided that the 
party should go through the Imperial apartments, 
across the Louvre, and thus reach the gate towards 
the Place Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. It rapidly 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 315 

crossed the left wing of the Tuileries, passed 
through the Museum gate and the picture-gallery, 
down the stairs leading to the Assyrian Palace, 
and eventually reached the gateway that gave on to 
the square. The ex- Regent quitted the Louvre, 
while a huge crowd assembled at the opposite 
side ; she still leant on Metternich's arm. Nigra 
and Madame le Breton, Bourbaki's sister, accom- 
panied her. They halted. "Wait for me here," 
said Richard to the two women ; "I am going to 
fetch my carriage. It is a plain one, with no 
coat-of-arms ; it is drawn by a white horse." 
Metternich and Nigra proceeded in search of the 
brougham. During their prolonged absence, the 
crowd grew greater and more violent. Madame 
le Breton hailed a passing cab, pushed her 
Sovereign into it, and gave the coachman the 
address of one of her friends — " Besson, State 
Councillor, Boulevard Haussmann." The rest is 
common history — the drive to the Avenue de 
Waoram ' m search of Piennes, Chamberlain to 
the Empress, who was also out, and eventually 
Eugenie's arrival at the house of Dr. Evans, 
Avenue du Bois de Boulogne. 

In the meanwhile, what had become of Metter- 
nich and Nigra ? They may have been cut off 
from the ladies they were protecting by the angry 
rush of the populace. They were guilty of a grave 
imprudence, however, not to say of a dereliction 



3 i6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of duty, by leaving the Empress at such a time, 
alone, in a frenzied crowd from which she had 
everything to fear. Such is the accusation brought 
against them by Imperialist writers when relating 
the events of the 4th September. 

Her Majesty had knocked at the door of Dr. 
Evans. This American citizen possessed an im- 
mense fortune, a European reputation, and a 
golden heart. He had known the Empress for 
many years. She was still Mademoiselle de 
Montijo when, as a friend of hers, he helped 
towards the attainment of her exalted position. 
She now came to him in misfortune, saying, 
" They have all forsaken me ; you can save me — 
you must save me. Afford me the means to 
escape from this hot-bed of revolution to the 
shores of England." Evans was deeply moved 
at the sight of the Empress in tears, as she came 
to beseech of him to rescue her from Paris and 
from France. She had indeed fallen from the 
giddy heights of her greatness — a greatness that 
she had deemed unassailable. He mastered his 
feelings and weighed up in a few minutes the 
responsibilities he was assuming towards her, 
towards the French nation that he loved, and 
towards history. He asked her to remain alone 
in the drawing-room, and sought Dr. Crane, a friend 
and fellow-countryman. Having told him what 
had happened, he asked him to note carefully 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 317 

what he was going to do, and to prepare to leave 
with him. It was Dr. Crane, who, thirty-five 
years later, published in detail the memoirs of 
Evans. Dr. Evans besought of the Empress to 
postpone her departure till the morrow, and 
placed at her disposal the apartments of Mrs. 
Evans, who was at Deauville. On the 5th Her 
Majesty rose, having enjoyed a good night's 
rest, and informed the doctor that she was ready 
to start. She wore the same toilette as on the 
previous day, having, however, put on a bonnet 
and a very thick veil belonging to Mrs. Evans. 
She stepped into the landau, accompanied by 
her reader and the two doctors. The carriage 
bound for Deauville, passed through the 
barrier of the Port Maillot, which was defended 
by National Guards. At Mantes another car- 
riage awaited them, and throughout the journey 
relays were effected with difficulty, but the goal 
hove at last in sight. " During the journey," says 
the author of An Orderly Officers Diary, "the 
Empress was sad and depressed. At times she 
seemed to be dozing, when suddenly, as if moved 
by weird thoughts, she would become gay and 
talkative. But her merry mood soon subsided as 
she burst into tears." On the evening of the 6th 
Eugénie reached Deauville, and, entering the 
Hôtel du Casino, where Mrs. Evans awaited her, 
she heaved a deep sigh, and said, " I am saved ! " 



3i8 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Was she really in such danger as she thought ? 
Her arrest had not been ordered in Paris, nor had 
it been contemplated by the governing authorities, 
who were then confronted by the most terrible 
state of affairs that any Government was ever 
called upon to face. 

Her existence had been forgotten in the midst of 
general confusion and collapse. 

Evans went down to the harbour to charter 
a ship. The weather was anything but en- 
couraging, for a strong wind blew down the 
Channel and a violent storm raged at sea. There 
was only one yacht available, belonging to Sir 
John Burgoyne, an intimate friend of the Emperor. 
He demurred, and even refused to weigh anchor, 
as he thought it would be very dangerous to 
attempt the crossing. He went so far as to say 
that they could not possibly reach the other side. 
Was he in reality stopped by the fear of some 
other danger incurred by the Empress ? Evans 
pleaded with eloquence, invoking every argument 
that could appeal to the heart of a man. That 
night, towards eleven o'clock, Burgoyne reluct- 
antly consented to pilot the craft during her 
dangerous voyage. The Gazelle was nearly 
swamped. She sailed at half-past twelve, so as 
not to awaken the public attention, and was soon 
labouring through the heavy seas. Eventually 
the wind abated somewhat, and the yacht made 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 319 

the harbour of Ryde. The passengers were 
drenched, and found it difficult to obtain admit- 
tance to a hotel. They eventually did so at the 
York Hotel, where they partook of a hasty meal. 
From Ryde the Empress travelled by rail to 
Hastings, where she spent twelve days at the 
Marine Hotel. Hence she repaired to Chisle- 
hurst, to the property that Dr. Evans had 
purchased for her. She had no sooner taken up 
her new abode, which she hoped was only a 
temporary one, than she proceeded to disentangle 
and join together the many threads that had been so 
rudely broken. She began at once a voluminous 
correspondence with her friends in France. On her 
arrival in England, Count de Bernstorff, Prussian 
Ambassador in London, had led her to hope that, 
as Regent, she might sign a treaty of peace, the 
conditions of which would be the payment of a 
,£400,000 war indemnity and the surrender of 
Strasburg to the conqueror. Communications 
with a view to securing peace had been exchanged 
between her and the King of Prussia, who on the 
25th October wrote her the following letter, the 
authenticity of which has never been contested by 
any of the parties mentioned in it : 

" Madame, 

1 'Count de Bernstorff has telegraphed to 
me the words which you have been good enough 



3 2o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to address to me through him. With all my heart 
I wish to restore peace to our two countries, but 
before this is possible, we must at least be fairly 
sure that France will accept the result of our 
deeds without our being compelled to wage war 
against the whole of the French forces. 

" I regret I cannot at present accede to the 
negotiations proposed by your Majesty owing to 
the political feelings of the army of Metz and of 
the French nation. 

" (Signed) William." 

With or without the King's consent, Bismarck 
was propounding to General Boyer, whom 
Bazaine was sending on a mission to Versailles, 
the conditions upon which the army of the Rhine 
should abandon its entrenched camp if an Im- 
perialist restoration were effected. The said army 
must proceed with arms and baggage to neutral 
ground, where the Empress Eugénie, her son, the 
Legislative Council and the French Imperial 
Senate would be assembled. 1 The army of Metz ! 

1 All idea of capitulation was to be set aside for the time 
being. The object to be achieved was that the army of Metz 
should remain faithful to its oath of allegiance and become the 
champion of the Imperial dynasty. Then the Field Marshal 
would issue a public proclamation that would make this clearly 
known so that the nation might know that he could be relied 
upon if it were the nation's wish to rally to the Bonapartist 
standard. 

In this way the army's relations with the Republic would 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 321 

It was indeed an imposing force ! At the German 
headquarters it was still supposed to have stores 
and ammunition far in excess of what it really 
could dispose of. It was an element of resistance 
that must be reckoned with by those who did not 
really know its internal condition. All the time 
the investing circle grew tighter and tighter around 
the citadel of Lorraine, while the Chancellor was 
cajoling the much-deluded marshal with false 
hopes. 

The Empress was well aware of the various 
steps taken by such emissaries as Duparc and 
Régnier, with a view to establish between Metz 
and Versailles such communications as might be 
conducive to the interests of peace and of the 
Napoleonic régime. She had sent a photograph 
of Hastings to Régnier, 1 who made use of it as a 

become embittered and Monsieur de Bismarck would be able 
to weigh the effect produced in France by this declaration. 
(Report of General Boyer to Marshal Bazaine, 17th October 
1870.) 

1 Régnier had also received from Monsieur Augustin Filon 
another stereoscopic view of Hastings signed by the Prince. 
Count d'Hérisson has noted the fact that the Napoleons always 
accredited their secret agents by means of portraits or photo- 
graphs. In this way, while they avoided compromising them- 
selves, they made their agents known to those they had to see. 

The report of the Bazaine trial contains the following passage 
on page 572 : 

Monsieur Jules Favre : "The Council is aware of my 
presence at Ferrières on the evening of the 1 9th. There I had 
a very long interview with Monsieur de Bismarck. It was 

x 



322 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

passport to gain access to Bismarck. Upon it 
she had written the following words: "This is a 
view of Hastings which I have chosen for my 
good Louis. (Signed) Eugénie." 

If it be true that Eugénie did not encourage 
these negotiations and that she refused to see 
Régnier at Hastings, it is likewise true that she 
could not remain indifferent to a strange under- 
taking the stages of which were Metz, Versailles 
and Wilhelmshohe, and the object of which was 
to bring about a treaty of peace between the 
Empress- Regent and Prussia. She was fully 
aware of the Bonapartist and diplomatic intrigues 
that were indulged in during the siege of Metz, 
although she always repudiated them. The 
mysterious Régnier represented himself to Bazaine 

adjourned until the following morning, when Monsieur de 
Bismarck showed me a photograph before I had time to 
address him. At the foot of this photograph, a view of Hast- 
ings, were written the words : ' I have chosen this view of 
Hastings for my good Louis. (Signed) Eugénie.' 

" Monsieur de Bismarck put this photograph under my very 
eyes." 

The President : " Is the honourable deputy quite sure that 
the signature appended to the photograph was that of the 
Empress ? " 

Monsieur Jules Favre : " Monsieur le President, many doubts 
have arisen in my mind since the inception of this trial, but I 
am enabled to assert that it was the signature of the Empress, 
as I recorded the fact in my report the moment I became aware 
of it, and I can almost see the photograph now, bearing the 
signature of Eugénie." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 323 

as the confidential messenger of the Empress, 
without even producing a written proof of his 
statement. Yet he was powerful enough to 
obtain the release from Metz of Bourbaki, one of 
France's most able generals, and to send him on 
a mission to Eugénie. We know how easily 
Bourbaki crossed the enemy's lines thanks to the 
connivance of Prussia, how he reached Camden 
Place by the quickest route, and how cordially he 
was received by his late Sovereign, who thanked 
him for this fresh proof of his devotion. We 
know how she invoked the misfortunes of France 
and her own sad isolation, and conjured of him to 
take charge of the Prince Imperial, to accompany 
him back to Metz, in the midst of his soldiers, 
under the French flag. We also know that Bour- 
baki declined to accede to her wishes. A strange 
situation indeed, in which Eugenie's patriotism 
forbade her to interfere, as long as the dangers 
and sufferings of the French nation lasted, while 
on the other hand her excusable ambition urged 
her to foster the possibilities of some agreement 
with the Conqueror, an agreement the forfeit of 
which was nothing less than her own throne ! The 
army of Metz was, alas ! without means of sub- 
sistence and on the eve of capitulation. On the 
morrow of that deadly disaster, on the 1st Novem- 
ber 1870, Thiers and Bismarck were seated 
together talking. The Chancellor happened to 



3 2 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

mention the name of the ex- Empress of the 
French : 

"What!" exclaimed Thiers, "the Empress, 
who informed us through Monsieur de Metternich, 
that she would have no part in all these intrigues, 
she who refused to see General Boyer, who ..." 

" Do not trust the Empress," replied Bismarck. 
" I can show you messages that we have received 
from her which will soon put a different complexion 
upon her conduct." 

Events were growing more serious. The last 
hopes had vanished. Even admitting she had 
given up all idea of being a source of further 
trouble to the country which had disowned her, 
circumstances would not have enabled her to 
create any disturbance. She realised that the 
exciting condition of affairs bade her await further 
events with resignation. 

On the 20th November she clearly defined 
her attitude in a letter written at Camden 
Place: "As the motives which compelled me to 
act with great reserve are still in existence, I 
prefer to remain silent and to wait. But I deny 
indignantly having had any relations with the 
Government of Tours." 

In the same letter she proceeded to explain her 
action at the critical time of the capitulation of 
Metz, the abandonment of Trochu with all its 
consequences. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 325 

" So far as the incident 1 of the 4th is concerned, 
I can only answer that General Trochu deserted 
me, if he did not do worse. He never set foot in 
the Tuileries after the Chamber was invaded, and 
I only saw three members of the Cabinet since 
then. They all insisted that I should leave imme- 
diately, but I did not wish to do so until the 
Tuileries themselves had been invaded. Upon 
this, as on many other subjects, the truth will 
eventually be known." Referring to the prospects 
of the war, she added, "The news from France 
informs us that Gambetta, the lunatic, seems bent 
upon setting up agitation in the room of much- 
needed organization. The success of the Army of 
the Loire gives one some hope, but I tremble lest 
it should undertake a march that will cause its 
destruction, like that of the Army at Sedan. May 
God protect it. It seems to me that the end is 
in sight. Here public spirit is much agitated. 
The war is of course discussed, while a Congress 
is devoutly hoped for." She had one glimmer of 
hope for the future of her dear ones and herself. 
England favoured a restoration of the French 
Empire. Austria did likewise, and Raimbaux, a 
member of the Emperor's household, was on his 
way to Russia in the hopes of inducing the Tzar 
to join the combination. Bismarck himself had 

1 "Incident "was indeed an indulgent term to apply to such 
an upheaval, to such a revolution. 



3 26 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

declared that he objected to dealings between 
nations that compelled one to meet and discuss 
with the rabble. But the tide turned once more. 
After fresh fights and fresh victories, the Chan- 
cellor became quite reconciled to meeting the men 
in the street. He had come to the conclusion 
that he could impose upon them terms much more 
drastic than those which would prove acceptable 
to men of a different social standing. 

Day by day the Empress followed the course 
of the drama that had been enacted, judging 
men and things as best she could, studying the 
state of opinion in France, noting such chances 
as she saw of her eventual return and reinstate- 
ment, and exhibiting sincere sorrow when she 
heard that France had sustained yet another blow. 
She often said, " If I were at the Tuileries I would 
do this or that " ; but she was no more at the 
Tuileries, a fact that she began to realize, not only 
through the loss of a throne, but also through the 
simple conditions of her existence. 

The early days at Chislehurst were indeed 
precarious. Napoleon III had been accused of 
accumulating vast wealth and hoarding it abroad, 
but he had not even had the prudence to do so. 
He had a supreme contempt for money. A 
fatalist in the most optimistic sense of the word, 
he had blind faith in the stability of his fortune, 
which was identified with that of France. As a 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 327 

result he was most improvident. When the late 
Lord Hartford wished to present him with the 
magnificent estate of Bagatelle, Napoleon thanked 
him in the following proud but cruel terms : " The 
heir to the Imperial throne can only accept pre- 
sents from God and France." He had so acquired 
the habit of reigning, that, like the Bourbons, he 
had fashioned a sort of divine right unto himself 
and his successors. He found himself without 
money the day that his generous civil list was 
stopped — a list that included large sums expended 
both on charitable and frivolous objects. 1 More- 
over, he had handed over his last million to the 
Army at Metz. The personal effects of the Empress 
had not yet been realized, and her financial condi- 
tion would have been more precarious still if, on 
the night of the 3rd September some faithful friends 
had not rescued from the wreck her jewel-box, con- 

1 Napoleon III very often untied his purse-strings, but his 
was a purse that might have belonged to the daughters of 
Danaiis, for it was often empty. The fact is proved by the 
following anecdote : "'I was often asked by struggling folk to 
intercede for them,' wrote that most charitable of men, Dr. 
Conneau, the keeper of the Emperor's privy purse, whose duty 
it was to dispense alms and donations on the behalf of his 
Imperial master. Conneau deserved and enjoyed the full 
confidence of Napoleon, for he died very poor, although 
millions unchecked by any one passed through his hands. He 
often said to me, ' Never send me any one at the end of the 
month, because at that time we never have a penny.' Few 
people were aware of the charitable profligacy of Napoleon III " 
(Unpublished diary of Bauer). 



328 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

taining superb pearls and diamonds. Some of them 
were sold by trusted emissaries across the Atlantic, 
where they became the property, not of Queens or 
Princesses by right of birth, but of American 
women wielding a power more secure — the 
uncontested power of millions. 

In the hurry of her departure, that was more 
like an affrighted flight, she had left all her clothes, 
linen and personal effects at the Tuileries. Fortu- 
nately they were saved from the looting of the 
Palace, which so soon was to be fired by the 
torches of incendiaries. Romantic souls waxed 
eloquent over the sacred duty of returning to 
this unhappy woman the personal effects she had 
possessed. The task was undertaken by Captain 
Charles d'Hérisson, an orderly officer of the 
Governor of Paris, who had a chivalrous nature, 
and was only twenty-five. 

On the morning of the 5th September he went to 
the Prefecture of Police to obtain the necessary 
passes. Count de Kératry had just taken office 
as Police Prefect. Having listened to the young 
officer's request, he advised him to seek Ernest 
Picard, who had just been appointed Minister 
of Finance. The Minister granted the application, 
saying, " I give you full power to act. On your 
return, your conscience may alone tell you that 
you did right, because the events of to-morrow are 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 329 

most uncertain ; but to-day I authorize you to 
satisfy your desire." 

It was not sufficient to obtain access to the 
Tuileries ; the personal guidance of one who had 
belonged to the Imperial household was sorely 
needed. Without knowing the "Seraglio" and 
its recesses it was no easy task to find the clothes 
and effects that had been hidden away. Charles 
d'Hérisson had the address of one of the ladies'- 
maids of the Empress. He asked her to meet 
him that night at the Palace, and the two pro- 
ceeded to the bedroom and dressing-room of 
Eugénie, and thence to the upper apartments, that 
contained huge oak wardrobes filled with beautiful 
silks, laces, cambrics and hundreds of dresses. A 
number of empty boxes and cases were hurriedly 
filled by the light of a few candles. The lady's- 
maid picked out a thousand different articles of 
apparel, which the officer and his orderly packed 
away. Twenty such trunks were filled by 
them, but the wardrobes still seemed to be 
replete. Several expeditions had to be made. 
The little group worked hard, and the first assign- 
ments were addressed to Chislehurst. Others, 
consisting of more precious effects, were sent to 
the Austrian Embassy. D'Hérisson did not spare 
his efforts, for he endeavoured to obtain possession 
of the Imperial property wherever he found it. 



33o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

One day he removed from a house on the Boule- 
vard Haussmann twenty thousand pounds' worth of 
furs belonging to the Empress. He was a constant 
caller at the Treasury, where the officials chaffed 
him about his mission. "Are you still bound for the 
Tuileries ? How long do you think this will last ? 
Is there any use in taking so much trouble ? " 
They added that either the absent ones would 
return, and then in all likelihood they would forget 
what he had done ; or months or years of exile 
would elapse, and then they would probably con- 
ceive a bad impression of those who had cleared 
their goods away from the Tuileries, as if there 
had been no chance of their ever returning there. 
Such were the views set forth by Ernest 
Picard, who was a philosopher. The young officer, 
however, continued his daily pilgrimages, urged 
by his noble sentiments. He was rewarded only 
by grievous disappointment. The Empress forgot 
to thank him, and his bitter resentment was duly 
expressed by him in his historic depositions. Mean- 
while, Eugénie lived in great simplicity at Camden 
Place, where her son had joined her, and where the 
prisoner of war from Wilhelmshohe was soon to 
find comparative rest. Chislehurst, like Arenen- 
berg, lacked the proportions of a palace and the 
appearance of a castle. Its style of architecture 
was far from pure, but it possessed beautiful 
grounds and a splendid park. The entrance hall 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 331 

was narrow. Beyond it came a gallery furnished 
with a certain amount of comfort ; on the right a 
very ordinary staircase, on the left a drawing-room 
where no luxury was displayed, and a dining-room 
remarkable only for the beauty of its wainscoting. 
The rest of the house was provincially uniform. 
In the drawing-room there were a mantelpiece of 
majolica with figures in relief, a few portraits hung 
here and there, and some flowers in the vases. In 
front of the mantelpiece was a round table covered 
with books and newspapers. Such was the middle- 
class appearance of Chislehurst, and such it re- 
mained for years. It was there that, in March 
1871, the Emperor and Empress met once more! 



CHAPTER X 

The meeting at Chislehurst— Departure and arrival of Napoleon 
III — The first intimate conversations — What was said and 
planned at Camden Place, in the intimate circle of the 
Empress — An unpublished account of these political and 
familiar chats — Hopes of an early restoration of the Bona- 
parte dynasty — Real conjuration — What the course of a 
second trip to Elba might have been — The final catastrophe 
upsets all these calculations — Napoleon III dies in the arms 
of the Empress — Consequences of his demise— An inter- 
view between Eugénie and Jerome — Complaints of the latter 
concerning certain deeds and the will which could not be 
found — Eugénie retires to Arenenberg during the first period 
of her mourning — Her delusions and deception — She with- 
draws from the struggle and devotes herself to the education 
of her son— Retrospective details — Anecdotes — Description of 
the Pretender and of his nature, identical with that of his 
mother — His views and illusions concerning the future — The 
anxious uncertainty of expectation tries him sorely — He adopts 
a sudden resolution — Departure of the Prince for Zululand — 
General consternation— What could be the reasons for such a 
determination ? — Was it dictated by self-pride or by some 
love-lore? — Was it a desire for adventures or a yearning to 
put a stop to a tutelage prolonged to excess ? — Private im- 
pressions of the Empress — Her state of anguish and isolation 
during the period that followed the Prince's departure — 
How she had regained confidence and self-control just as she 
learnt of the death of her son — She renounces politics for 
ever— Her belated reconciliation with Prince Napoleon — The 
death of Jérôme Napoleon, cousin of Napoleon III — A sketch 
of him, of his character, of his misjudged or barren capabilities, 
and of the part he played — The Empress remains alone after 
these successive losses — Her new residence at Farnborough — 
Her private life there — Her journeys abroad — Her meeting at 
Mentone — Imposing interviews — Last impressions and last 
recollections. 

On the 18th March, 1871, the day on which the 

conquerors of Belleville and Montmartre occupied 

the Hôtel de Ville, Napoleon III was set free 

332 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 333 

and prepared to leave Wilhelmshohe. He ad- 
vised the absent one, whom he had not seen since 
the visit she paid him in that ancient palace of 
King Jérôme, converted by another Bonaparte 
into a jail. 

At six o'clock the next day, the ex-Emperor 
of France left Cassel, while Thiers and the 
National Assembly handed Paris over to the 
triumphant Revolution. Napoleon was escorted 
by a German Guard of Honour, commanded by 
the Governor. General de Montz, aide-de-camp 
to the King of Belgium, met him at the frontier. 
So anxious was he to terminate his journey and 
meet his son, from whom he had been separated 
since the 25th August, that Napoleon travelled 
straight through Belgium in the Royal train, and 
sailed in King Leopold's steam yacht. 

He was met at Dover by the Empress, the 
Prince Imperial and Prince Murat. An enormous 
crowd followed the Imperial party on the pier. 
Loud acclamations welcomed him on landing, as 
if those present wished to alleviate his sufferings. 
He smiled and saluted through force of habit. 
The harbour-master, a captain of the British 
Navy, reminded him that fifteen years previously 
he had had the honour of receiving him on the 
occasion of his visit to Queen Victoria. It was 
an auspicious date, the opportune recalling of which 
cast a ray of brightness upon this inception of his 



334 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

exile. He reached the Lord Warden Hotel, and 
proceeded to the station. It was with difficulty 
that he did so, for the police had a most difficult 
task to perform in clearing a way for him through 
the vast gathering of welcoming friends. He 
was met at the station by Eugénie. Deeply 
moved, she embraced him passionately. The 
young Prince fell on his father's breast, and the 
witnesses of this pathetic scene shared the keen 
emotion of the Empress. Surrounded by such 
tokens of fervent hospitality, and followed by their 
suite, Napoleon, Eugénie and the Prince boarded 
the Royal train in waiting, and entered the saloon, 
upholstered in pale pink silk. By a strange irony 
of fate, at that very moment members of the 
Commune in Paris, ferocious democrats, took pos- 
session of the three or four carriages belonging to 
the ex-Emperor. They had been removed to 
the Hôtel de Ville during the first siege. During 
the journey of a few hours between Dover and 
Chislehurst, the Imperial Family indulged in end- 
less subjects of conversation, upon the incredible 
events which had taken place. 

At heart, Napoleon enjoyed a quiescent con- 
dition of mind. He spoke of his tragic fate with 
great philosophy. He expressed in obliging, 
kindly terms, his appreciation of the way in 
which the Germans had treated him, explaining 
events after his own fashion, with no resentment 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 335 

towards any one, save Trochu, a General of the 
Empire in the morning, a General of the Re- 
public that same evening. As soon as he had 
taken up his residence at Chislehurst, the faithful 
adherents of his party made frequent pilgrimages 
to that shrine. 

The violence of the storm had scattered the 
guests of the Empire to the four winds. Such 
old habitués of the Tuileries as General Fleury, 
the Dukes of Montebello and of Albuhera, Mar- 
shal Canrobert and his wife, the Countesses 
Walewska and de Beaumont had all fled to 
Brussels. Several diplomatists had asked for 
their letters of recall. After the Empress's flight 
Prince Richard de Metternich expressed to his 
Emperor his wish to return to Vienna. He 
was asked to remain in Paris. He resumed his 
position there, and as early as January 187 1 the 
Princess spoke of returning to Paris in case the 
Republic showed any chance of maintaining itself 
with stability. 

If the noble strangers, the Ambassadors and 
Ambassadresses, who shone at the Court of 
Eugénie, found it easy to steer their course towards 
other horizons after the fall of a monarchy of 
which they were not subjects, it was quite a 
different matter for those who existed only by the 
Empire and for the Empire. Whenever chance 
offered itself they sought one another through- 



336 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

out the world. The most compromised amongst 
them repaired to Chislehurst, faithful, eager, con- 
soling, and asserting their undying devotion to 
the régime which had given them so much. 
Thanks to it, they had enjoyed pleasure, power 
and wealth ; and now they sought instructions 
which might enable them to wield once more the 
influence of the Empire, the permanent abolition 
of which they sternly refused to admit as possible. 
From 1 87 1 to 1873 a whole series of plans was 
evolved, correspondence was secretly circulated, 
and verbal arrangements effected at Camden 
Place. Eugénie took a brilliant part in such 
conversations, as bore upon the present and the 
future. The young Prince listened to them 
attentively, for in them he found food for much 
hope. More than once the placid Napoleon pro- 
longed these talks, arguing his policy, explaining 
and endeavouring to justify the deeds of imprud- 
ence and foolhardiness which had hurled him into 
the abyss. He hoped that his words would be 
repeated. He endeavoured to prove that he was 
not responsible for the disasters of Sedan, or that 
if he declared war before the proper time, it was 
because he had been deceived by the Ministers 
who advised him to do so. One afternoon 
he referred to the accusation levelled against 
the Empress of having ardently wished this fatal 
conflict. He endeavoured to defend his com- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS Z2>7 

panion and himself before history — that sternest 
of judges. These are his words, though they 
were not perhaps the exact expression of his 
intimate thoughts — 

"The Empress and I are accused of having 
wished this war, so that victory might provide us 
with a sheet-anchor, and enable us to give strength 
and vitality to our weakened power. We never 
harboured such an idea. No one could discount 
victory, and in this case it was all the more dubious 
and uncertain, as we had before us the reports of 
Stoffel." 

On that day the conversation did not proceed 
further. It was interrupted by the arrival of a 
Grand Duchess of Russia, who had been met at 
the station by a hired carriage of more than 
modest appearance, which hardly recalled the 
splendour of Imperial equipages of by-gone 
days. 

In France, the early restoration of Imperialism 
was warmly discussed and hopefully referred to. 
The word of command was awaited from London 
and from Napoleon. The fallen Emperor had 
received offers of vast sums — the indispensable 
sinews of action — and each day the private 
fortune of Eugénie became sensibly increased. 1 

1 In addition to the value of her jewels and personal effects 
(a considerable portion of which she sold), and without taking 
into account her Spanish properties and her expectations, the 

y 



338 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Zealous agents offered to organize a propa- 
ganda. Daring writers were anxious to begin 
the campaign, and one of these apologists had 
already published a pamphlet, entitled They 
have Lied, the object of which was to prove 
that the misfortunes of France were not caused 
by the Empire, but by the Government of the 4th 
September. 

With beating heart, Eugénie listened fervently 
to the discussion of these plans of campaign. She 
had understood the necessity for silence so long 
as the awful duologue between French and 
Prussian cannons had lasted. She had only 
broken that silence when, discouraged and 
undone, she wrote to the Sovereigns of Europe, 
the Emperor of Russia, the Emperor of Austria, 
and Queen Victoria, beseeching them to be- 
come the arbiters of an honourable peace. The 
indifference of the neutral Sovereigns did not 
yield to her voice any more than it did to the 

Empress's fortune at the time of Napoleon's death was com- 
puted as follows : Two buildings in the Rue d'Albe worth 
,£36,000, three houses in the Rue de l'Elysée worth ,£80,000, 
the Jonchere estate .£20,000, that of Solferino in the " Landes 
district " ;£6o,ooo, the Biarritz ,£40,000, one in the Basses- 
Pyrénées ,£48,000, the Imperial Palace at Marseilles ^64,000 
(this was not yet finished ; the sale of it paid for the debts of 
the civil list as well as that of the Vichy Chalet); .£75,000 in 
cash added to the above sums gave her an income of about 
.£80,000 a year, which was greatly increased by further legacies, 
and also by thrift. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 339 

patriotic urgings of Thiers. She witnessed in 
perfect quietude and with apparent resignation 
the efforts of the Government of National De- 
fence. But as soon as peace was signed she was 
tormented by a keen desire to return to her 
palaces. 

The Bonapartists already raised their heads in 
the confusion of parties which, amid the ruins 
caused by war, were seeking to establish the 
foundations of a throne. Though its fall was so 
recent, its reconstruction was already eagerly 
discussed. Corsica had returned Rouher at the 
elections of the nth February, 1872. This filled 
with joy the heart of Napoleon's wife no less 
than his own, and it inspired the Imperialist 
propagandists with enormous confidence in their 
strength as well as in their right. Papers were 
founded in its support. In France, public and 
private manifestations occurred, inspired one and 
all from Chislehurst. The Prince of Orange 
spread the report, that was repeated everywhere, 
of an undertaking about to be signed by which 
Germany would surrender Alsace and Lorraine 
to Napoleon, taking possession of Belgium and 
Holland instead of the French provinces. A 
bevy of agents went from village to village, 
from inn to inn, asserting that the recall of 
Napoleon was the best means by which the libera- 
tion of the country could be accomplished, and 



340 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

the national misfortunes attenuated. These good 
words were constantly transmitted to England by 
telegraph. Full of unshaken confidence, Napoleon 
repeated to his followers that he would not long 
remain an exile. " I know that I am the only 
solution possible." He stated this in January 
1872, less than a year after the occurrence of the 
fatal events for which he was held responsible. 

Eugénie also believed it, and was making her 
arrangements accordingly. She would leave 
Chislehurst at an early date not yet determined, 
and as the Tuileries were burnt down, the Sove- 
reign would reign in the Louvre. They would 
go less often to Compiègne and more frequently to 
the Trianon. In future, the Court, desisting from 
its whilom frivolity and its too frequent festivities, 
would apply itself to a more serious existence. 
The indispensable Rouher, the chosen one of 
Corsica, would of course steer the ship of power 
through its early storms, without awaiting the 
formulation of a complete official programme. 
With unfaltering devotion they would all work 
together for the good of the country. Above all 
things, energy was needed. From the first she 
had mastered her feelings in the belief of an early 
recovery, and had not yielded long to the weaken- 
ing influence of depression. She was well aware 
that Bismarck had thought at one time of recallin;_; 
Napoleon 1 1 1 to the throne. Bazaine also knew 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 341 

this when, engrossed by politics instead of by- 
warfare, because he was corresponding with the 
Prussian Minister until at last it was too late for 
him to force the enemy's lines. However, the 
hesitant views of Bismarck suddenly changed. 
All things considered, he concluded that his con- 
quest would be rendered more enduring under 
an unstable Republic. He hoped that popular 
disorder and political convulsions would continue 
to shake to its very foundations the conquered 
nation which he did not deem sufficiently humili- 
ated or sufficiently weakened. He turned his 
back on the Bonapartes. 

Eugénie then built up her hopes upon the 
promises that came from the conquered pro- 
vinces. A vague attempt at a Bonapartist plot was 
effected. A vote of dethronement or forfeiture, and 
Thiers' accession to power, dealt a death-blow at 
this incipient conspiracy. 1 For some months 
silence reigned. Once more the Bonapartist buzz 
was heard. I fancy I can see this Court circum- 
scribed by fate, but with ambitions as great as 
ever, listening anxiously, watching every opportu- 
nity, and heeding the smallest reports that might 
be the forerunners of the events they so ardently 

1 " Do not attach the slightest importance to the Bonapartists' 
doings and sayings. They are talking a lot, but they have 
neither money nor occupation" (Thiers, 12th February, 
1872). 



342 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

wished for ; I can fancy the members of that 
Court busy reckoning, and computing the profits, 
the benefits that were soon to accrue to them. 

Since the support and help of political legality 
could no more be expected, one means only was 
left, that which imposes itself by the power of the 
accomplished fact, to wit a surprise, a coup de force. 
This was in accordance with the traditions of 
Brumaire and of the 2nd December, and quite 
to be expected from a Napoleon. The bellicose 
temperament of Eugénie was kindled by the 
dangers that were bound to accrue from such a 
course. The loss of her great position was keenly 
felt by her, and the hopes of her reinstatement 
whipped her imagination, exalted her ardour, 
already great, owing to her maternal ambition. 
She was quite decided that in future she would 
not allow the Emperor's weakness to be the 
accomplice of liberal effervescence. If in the 
past the union between her lord and herself had 
been subjected to certain differences, and strained 
upon questions of an intimate nature, they had 
now agreed to act in complete accord. 

A conspirator to the end, Napoleon found 
sufficient strength, though unnerved and physi- 
cally worn out, to make a supreme effort to 
manipulate the threads of a conspiracy in which 
were enrolled political men, prelates like Cardinal 
de Bonnechose, Prefects, and what was more 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 343 

essential still where a coup d'état was concerned, 
Generals on active service. Hypnotized by his 
Fatalism, he could not believe that he had run 
his course, nor could he stop to reflect upon the 
fact that France, having had so many dire experi- 
ences of Saviours, was sick of them at last. Until 
now, in good and evil times, he had followed the 
historic example of the founder of his House. It 
was therefore in the order of things that he 
should attempt a second landing from the Island 
of Elba. For this he made full preparation. 

The time for action had been briefly discounted. 
It could not be long delayed, for it was deemed 
urgent to deal a blow before the vote of a Consti- 
tution was recorded which would have prevented 
the Pretenders from raising the question of the 
form of government to be adopted. The date 
was almost fixed. It was in March 1873 that 
France was to have enjoyed this pleasant surprise. 

Success was assured, according to all appear- 
ances. Towards the end of 1872 Napoleon had 
tested his strength by a long ride in the avenues 
of Chislehurst, but he was reluctantly compelled 
to recognize the necessity for surgical intervention 
in his case. He decided to turn his illness to good 
account, and to repair to Cowes on the pretext 
of his convalescence. His sojourn there would 
lull the activity of watchful Republicans and put 
them off the scent. In due time, he meant to sail 



344 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

for Ostend, and proceeding hence through Cologne 
and Basle, he meant to meet his cousin Jérôme at 
Nyon. All their arrangements were perfected. 
Their plan was to cross the Lake of Geneva, to 
land on the French coast and reach Annecy. 
They did not doubt but that the cavalry regiment 
quartered there would follow them to Lyons, com- 
manded by Bourbaki, whose devotion to the 
Empress made them feel certain that he would 
lead such cohorts as gathered around the Imperial 
flag. Napoleon 1 1 1 was so full of his dream that he 
already saw himself riding from Lyons to Paris at 
the head of an army that had secured victory 
without a fight. So deeply was he imbued with 
this strange illusion, that he thought he would be 
acclaimed as a liberator and greeted as a master. 
The National Assembly was a stumbling-block 
which could be quickly removed by holding up 
the Parliamentary train between Paris and Ver- 
sailles. He had already constituted the Minis- 
terial Cabinet. Count de Kératry, a late Prefect 
of the 4th September, who had soon abjured his 
Republican faith, was chosen as Home Sec- 
retary, while Marshal MacMahon was appointed 
Minister for War without even being consulted. 
General Fleury was to be Governor of Paris. 
Relations were begun with several representatives 
of foreign Powers from whom encouragement, and, 
if necessary, active protection might be expected. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 345 

It was said that Prince Orloff, the Russian Am- 
bassador, strongly favoured Napoleon's plans; that 
Count Arnim, the German Ambassador, openly- 
applauded it, and that Prince Bismarck, whose 
army was still on French soil, was in no way 
opposed to the scheme. Circumstances therefore 
favoured immediate action. 

All these calculations were upset by death. 

On the 9th January 1873 Napoleon breathed his 
last at Chislehurst, in the arms of the Empress. A 
week previously the complaint from which he suffered 
became acute, and impeded all active work on his 
part. His physical sufferings were intense, but 
the inaction caused by them was what he felt 
most. That was why he decided to undergo the 
operation known as lithotrity. It was not success- 
ful, and had to be repeated a second time on the 
7th January. On the 8th, the condition of the 
patient became much worse, and the surgeons 
decided upon a third operation. Napoleon did 
not live to undergo it, for he expired on that day 
at 10.45. 

His widow was at first weighed down by 
sincere and intense sorrow. She soon realized 
the need for much reflection and prudence, and 
prepared to deal with such consequences as might 
ensue from her present loss. Forthwith she under- 
took a close perusal of all the documents left by 
the late Emperor. It has been said that certain 



346 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of these political documents contained matter 
directly connected with foreign Powers of so 
important a nature that no time could be lost in 
setting them in order and in suppressing them if 
needful. Later on it was stated that they could 
not be found, and that certain deeds had been 
removed by some faithful servant previous to the 
Emperor's death. 

Prince Jérôme arrived at Chislehurst the day 
after his cousin's demise. He was received by 
the Empress in a darkened room and had to feel 
his way to a chair. Some preliminary conversa- 
tion took place, in the course of which the sudden 
death of the Emperor was discussed, but soon 
urgent matters of the gravest importance, such as 
the immediate performance of certain duties, were 
discussed by the Empress and the Prince. She 
asked him to take possession of Napoleon Ill's 
study and to draw up an inventory of all the 
deeds it contained. Having first declined tp 
undertake the task, he eventually acquiesced. 
Most of the cabinets containing the deeds were 
locked and sealed, and Jérôme observed that he 
saw no sign of judicial authority, but merely the 
private seals of the Empress's secretary, M. 
Franceschini Pietri. The latter broke the seals 
one by one in the presence of the Prince, who 
did not trouble to disguise his annoyance at this 
mistrust. Having ransacked everything and taken 




THE EMPRESS EUGENIE. 
From a photograph by Downey taken in 1S7^. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 347 

cognizance of different documents, he came to a 
drawer in which he had seen the Emperor place 
an historic deed of great value. 1 He could not 
find it, nor many other documents which he knew 
should have been there. Instead of them, there 
were numerous letters from French officers asking 
for money. The will was the same unique text 
without modification or addition, the old will 
without codicils, which the Emperor had signed 
before the Campaign of Italy at the Palace of 
Tuileries. It had never been altered, notwith- 
standing the extraordinary changes that had 
taken place since it was made. On reading it, 
Jérôme Napoleon felt he need not pursue these 
investigations. 

"I need go no farther," he said, "for I see 
how matters stand, and I realize that there is 
nothing for me to do here." 

There and then he left Chislehurst. Before 
his departure he had refused to assume the guar- 
dianship of the Prince Imperial, declaring that 
after all he had seen or guessed he did not feel 
he could effectively defend his interests. The 
abyss between the ex-Regent and himself, who 
was termed a broken-down Caesar, was deeper than 
ever. The prospects of the Imperialist cause 

1 This was an acknowledgment of a treaty signed between 
Francis Joseph and Napoleon III, promising the help of 
Austria to France in case she went to war with Prussia. 



348 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

were seriously damaged by these family quarrels 
and by the bitter recriminations of Prince Jérôme, 
the news of which was of course imparted to those 
whose interest or duty it was to know of them. 
The funeral of Napoleon III took place at 
Chislehurst on the 15th January, and was 
attended by a host of ancient retainers who 
harboured the hope of holding high office under 
the third Empire. During her first period of 
mourning, Eugénie sought peace, if not conso- 
lation, on the borders of Lake Constance, at 
Arenenberg Castle, so full of souvenirs and 
mementoes of the one she mourned. She knew 
how much Napoleon had loved this residence, 
where his youth had been spent with his mother, 
Queen Hortense. There she buried herself. 
Now and then friends who were travelling in 
Switzerland or Germany would ask that they 
might be allowed to offer her their condolences. 
As a rule, such visitors stopped at Constance and 
waited there until a day and time had been assigned 
for an audience. Among the visitors who came 
to the modest Manor of Arenenberg was Mme. 
Octave Feuillet, wife of the famous author of 
Monsieur de Camors. She related one of these 
pilgrimages, and more than once in the course 
of her conversation she has entertained us with 
details concerning it. She did not remember the 
road leading from Constance to Arenenberg, for 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 349 

it lacked picturesqueness until the village of 
Ermelingen, where the lake abutted, leaving 
behind it a trail of greyish mud. Past Erme- 
lingen the landscape was both charming and 
original. It was still part of Switzerland. On 
reaching the summit of the hill leading to the 
house, the carriage drove through a dark avenue 
bordered with ravines and thickly wooded. The 
lake running at the foot of the trees glistened 
between their branches like the Mediterranean does 
between the olive groves of Villefranche. The 
carriage stopped before the house usually dubbed 
" The Castle," owing to the social position of its 
occupiers. It was only a cottage, hidden in an 
arbour. A white-haired man-servant opened the 
door and ushered the visitor through a simply 
furnished hall into a drawing-room upholstered 
like a tent. Its ceilings and walls were covered 
with tent-cloth. Nothing had been changed in 
the house since the death of Queen Hortense. 
There were the same pieces of furniture covered 
with linen and the same cabinets placed at the 
same angles. On the cold mantelpieces the same 
clocks with colonnades, like mausoleums ; on the 
walls, family portraits. The one representing a 
bright-eyed child chasing butterflies was that of 
Hortense de Beauharnais. The romantic-looking 
hero in a blue frock-coat climbing the heights of 
the Oberland was Louis Napoleon at the age of 



35o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

twenty. Old frames contained the portraits of 
his brother Charles in a red velvet coat and of 
Prince Eugène de Beauharnais brandishing a 
sword, "upon the horizons of apotheosis." As 
Mme. Feuillet was studying these somewhat 
gaudy portraits the door opened. Marie de 
Larminat, followed by Mme. le Breton, entered 
the room. 

" The Empress wishes to see you alone before 
dinner," said Mme. le Breton. "Will you kindly 
come with me to her apartments ? " 

The etiquette of presentation was still observed, 
but the surroundings were different indeed. In- 
stead of the vast galleries and majestic staircases 
of the Tuileries, the first floor was reached by a 
winding staircase, such as exist in provincial shops, 
which led to the boudoir and the bedroom of the 
hostess of Arenenberg. The boudoir was in 
keeping with the rest of the house, with cretonne 
hangings. A writing-desk occupied a sort of 
niche that was like an alcove. Here and there 
small tables upon which albums and views of 
Switzerland were strewn. In the bow of a 
window looking out on the lake was a large arm- 
chair, and in the front of the arm-chair an easel 
supporting that splendid photograph of the Em- 
peror, in which he is represented with his head 
leaning upon one hand. The whole scene was 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 351 

sad and peaceful in the extreme. The visitor 
had not long to wait, for soon through the door 
leading to the bedroom there was seen the figure 
of a lady clad in deepest mourning. There was 
no need to announce the Empress, who could 
easily be recognized by her walk. The first word 
she uttered to Mme. Feuillet was " Thank you," 
and she burst into tears. Having mastered her 
feelings, she sat down in the chair opposite the 
portrait and invited Mme. Feuillet to be seated 
by her. When the dinner-gong sounded, she had 
not exhausted one-tenth of the conversation begun 
upon all those members of her brilliant entourage. 
She spoke with that vivacity and rapidity so 
characteristic of her, but she had yet much to say 
as she proceeded down the narrow stairs, the 
curve of which was delineated in undulating lines 
by the long train that she wore. With the 
same pomp and solemnity once observed at the 
Tuileries, the door of the little dining-room, up- 
holstered in tent-cloth was thrown open before 
her as were the doors of the Marshal's banqueting 
hall. Among her guests were the Grand Duchess 
of Bade, the Countess Stéphanie Tascher de la 
Pagerie, Mme. le Breton, Marie de Larminat, the 
Duke of Bassano, Pietri, the Marquis of Tascher, 
and Mme. Octave Feuillet. During dinner she 
seemed to forget her sadness, and engaged in 



352 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

bright conversation, recalling theatrical events in 
Paris, and chatting about Chislehurst, Woolwich, 
and Arenenberg. 

" I found this place very small, years ago, when 
I came from Fontainebleau with the Emperor. I 
used to feel suffocated here, but now I like 
Arenenberg." 

The repast had come to an end, and the guests 
went into the conservatory, the verandah of which 
gave on the lake. This was the only apartment 
in the whole house that had any pretensions to 
elegance or modern comfort. It contained hand- 
some furniture hidden away by green plants. 
Round the table were large divans, and in a dark 
recess there was a beautiful bower of roses from 
which protruded a bust of Joséphine, a background 
for which was provided by Indian cashmere. 

The weather was stormy and the conversation 
somewhat flagged. One of the guests referred to 
the great care which Eugénie, as Empress, had 
bestowed upon the furnishing of her apartments. 
She took up the subject and referred to the value 
one attaches with a sort of unreasoned tenderness 
to certain articles and objects that seem to become 
part and parcel of one's life. A simple little ring, 
a little gold box containing the pumice-stone which 
she used, and a little pincushion of no value were, 
she said, so many fetiches with which Napoleon 
never wished to part. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 353 

" I have lost all the little knick-knacks that I 
loved," she said : " they were either burnt or stolen 
at the Tuileries." 

Every word she uttered, every circumstance 
recalled by her, showed how bitterly she regretted 
by-gone days. Mme. Octave Feuillet could not 
help reverting in her mind to certain occasions in 
the past when the Empress held other views. 
She remembered how one night at Fontainebleau, 
when her every wish seemed to be gratified, 
Eugénie, surrounded by her Court, and gazing 
at the stars, exclaimed capriciously, not know- 
ing what she really did want, " Oh, how I would 
love to live alone in an old castle, and to hear 
the wind howling through the corridors." 

A strange upheaval, a concourse of fatal cir- 
cumstances, had effected the accomplishment of 
that strange wish. She remained a few months 
at Arenenberg absorbed by her grief, crushed by 
her mourning-. But she did not forget that she 
had not yet abdicated. Much less had she 
renounced the pretensions to the throne of France 
of her son the Prince Imperial, who was then 
pursuing his military studies at Woolwich. The 
Bonapartists had found it difficult at first to 
get over the shock caused by Napoleon's death. 1 

1 Referring in his rough language to the impossibility of 

resuscitating the Napoleonic dynasty after the disasters of 

Metz and Sedan, Bismarck said upon hearing of the death of 

z 



354 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

It indefinitely postponed results which they 
thought within their grasp, and the most hopeful 
view they could take of the situation was the 
possible advent of the Prince, twelve or fifteen 
years hence. A regular crisis of madness over- 
took the zealots of the Napoleonic Dynasty. 
They thought that the hour of reparation must be 
preceded by a long series of revolutionary ex- 
cesses. They considered that France was lost, 
almost ruined, and they hurriedly made away 
with all their goods and funds, which they invested 
abroad. 

The party leaders endeavoured to rekindle the 
courage of their followers, but the political passions, 
revived somewhat by foregathering round the heir- 
presumptive, were weakened by internal rivalries, 
and those irreparable family dissensions which also 
decimated the Monarchist camp. While the minor- 
ity composed by the Liberal independent followers 
of Jérôme adhered to revolutionary traditions which 
had given birth to a fully armed dictature of the 
Empire, the majority led by the Empress repre- 
sented officiai Bonapartism, in which pseudo- 
legitimist and clerical tendencies prevailed. On 
his deathbed, Napoleon III had entrusted to the 
ex- Empress and to Rouher, the late Minister, the 
leadership of the Bonapartist party, the official 

the exile of Chislehurst, " He has not only killed a living son 
but he has reinterred a deceased uncle." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 355 

head of which was his son the Prince Imperial, 
who was not yet seventeen. 1 The Empress 
disposed of the funds, upon which she kept a very 
tight hand, while Rouher, nicknamed " the Vice- 
Emperor " when at the summit of his power, 
advised, directed and administered. Great hopes 
were built upon this indefatigable worker, who 
assimilated rapidly all that he studied and devel- 
oped the strength of his mind by quick action. 
He was, however, exclusive, narrow, and had but 
one passion, the desire to dominate every one and 
everything. He lacked that quality so indispens- 
able to the success and existence of public leaders, 
a thorough knowledge of men. 

Eugénie had to play a transitory part which 
was neither pleasant nor easy. She had to 
combat the Republicans, who had paid so 

1 The education of the Prince had suffered interruptions 
that were the inevitable results of events. Although his dis- 
tinguished tutor, Augustin Filon, had as coadjutors two 
specialists, one a German, the other a mathematical master, 
his father felt that his education would be incomplete if he 
was not placed under regular discipline. He therefore re- 
quested Queen Victoria to allow the Prince to enter the Royal 
Academy at Woolwich. In October 1872 the Prince passed his 
entrance examination, though the authorities had wished to dis- 
pense with it. In October 1873 he was twenty-third in a class 
of thirty cadets, but when he left in 1875 he was seventh, and 
the college register contains the following entry, Fol. 84. Bo. 
3880. " Prince Imperial seventh out of thirty. Should he 
wish to enter the service of Her Majesty he has qualified to do 
so either in the Corps of Royal Engineers or in the Artillery." 



356 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

dearly for their preponderance that they de- 
fended it with all their might. But she had 
also to contend against the adverse factions of 
the two branches of the House of Bourbon, 
not to mention the awkward ambitions of 
Prince Napoleon. Thiers was President of the 
Republic, Henry V was at Chambord, Count 
de Paris at the Castle d'Eu, the Due d'Aumale 
at Chantilly, and Jérôme Napoleon at Prangins. 
They were indeed too many at a time, and how- 
ever great her activity, she suffered nothing 
but disappointment. 

The Constitution of 1875, the failure of a Re- 
actionary policy and the retirement of Marshal 
MacMahon were blows that fell in quick succes- 
sion. She gave up the struggle, and hoping that 
in years to come the career of her son would 
afford her ample compensation, she devoted her- 
self entirely to his education. This was a task 
which she never neglected. She accomplished it 
with the greatest care when he was only a child, 
feeling at times the necessity to complete, if not 
to alter the paternal direction thereof. She 
soon deemed it prudent to impart firmness and 
gravity to the performance of a duty which the 
Emperor accomplished with too much tenderness. 
As little Caesar grew under the delighted gaze of 
his parents, the Emperor ingenuously exaggerated 
the adulation which he bestowed upon his son. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 357 

Though he had thought fit to put into practice 
the old observances of royal ceremonial so far as 
his courtiers were concerned, he did not apply 
them to his intimate relations with his son. It 
is generally known that royal children under the 
régime of divine right barely approached the 
authors of their days. They were entrusted to 
the care of a governor or military tutor whose 
duty it was to regulate, hour by hour, their 
precious existence. A few moments were devoted 
each morning to the task of going to salute the 
Queen, their mother, whom they called "Madame," 
and the King their father, whom they addressed 
as " Sire." Napoleon did not argue in this wise. 
He remained the chosen one of the people 
upon this question, for he did not wish to turn 
his precious love for his child into a ceremonious 
masquerade. He would have liked him con- 
stantly by his side, and on many occasions 
he took him away from his studies or his 
games to gatherings where the little Prince 
was not expected. Thus did the Emperor 
believe that he was contributing to the educa- 
tion of his son. On several occasions he took 
him to Cabinet Councils in company with the 
Empress, so that the affairs of the State were 
really administered in a homely fashion. The 
child played in a corner while the high digni- 
taries discussed weighty matters. When he 



358 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

chose to join in the conversation he would 
interrupt it abruptly. No one present feigned 
any surprise. The President, that is to say the 
Emperor, would gently ask the brat what it 
was he wanted to know, while the Empress 
showed less indulgence and scolded him, saying 
that well-brought-up children should preserve 
silence in the presence of their elders. Acute 
and subtle Ministers, as good courtiers that they 
were, seized the opportunity to flatter their 
Imperial master. They would fall into ecstasies 
over the precociousness of His Highness, and 
Monsieur and Madame would smother " Lou- 
lou " in caresses. As soon as the interlude was 
finished, important discussions on finance and 
politics were resumed. 

The paternal fibre of Napoleon III would 
grow tender on the smallest provocation. Octave 
Feuillet affords an instance of this in his cor- 
respondence. The incident related occurred at 
Compiègne. The Emperor came into the draw- 
ing-room where tea had been served to the 
Empress. He addressed her saying, " Eugénie, 
a huntsman wants to speak to you." And throw- 
ing the door wide open he ushered in a hand- 
some boy wearing the braided coat of a huntsman, 
with breeches, white stockings, plumed hat and 
hunting horn, and holding two dogs on the 
leash. The Emperor gazed at him tenderly 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 359 

and his eyes filled with tears. Prince Louis, for 
it was he, was greeted with applause. Every- 
one told him how charming he looked, and 
eventually he regained his freedom. But a 
minute afterwards the Empress had him re- 
called, and insisted that he should recite a fable 
in the small circle that had gathered around her. 
As an obedient son, he began to recite by heart 
the first few verses in a clear and pleasant voice, 
but stopped short, having forgotten the next. 
The Empress grew impatient and threatened to 
send him away, but Octave Feuillet prompted 
the boy, who finished his task. 

Eugénie used every endeavour to keep the 
young Prince aloof from flatterers. She would 
not allow discipline to be broken in any way 
because of his rank, and he had to pursue his 
studies in accordance with general rules. As she 
was naturally inclined tc exercise her authority, 
her severity towards her son was perhaps exag- 
gerated. It is but fair, however, to state that she 
had good reasons to fear the weakening influence 
of the Court and the snares of flattery which con- 
fronted the young Prince. She knew how lenient 
her husband was, and how little protection he 
afforded the child against the wiles of courtiers. 
Accordingly, she decided to foster by every means 
the growth and development of his mind, and to 
keep it straight and healthy in this centre of adu- 



3 6o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

lation and corruption. One can hardly credit the 
mean and petty temptations placed in the way of the 
young Prince, sometimes unconsciously and some- 
times with malice aforethought by those who 
were ever ready to grovel before him as soon as 
he got away from his mother or his military 
governor, General Frossan. He was barely out 
of swaddling clothes when he was made the object 
of slavish attention in no way justified in the case 
of a child who had barely left his cradle. Of this 
we have many proofs, such as the following one. 

One evening after dinner the conversation 
turned on astronomy. Le Verrier had just dis- 
covered as the result of marvellous calculations 
the presence of a star situated at such a distance 
that the electric spark which encircles the terres- 
trial globe nine times per second would require 
to travel during an incalculable number of years 
before reaching this celestial body. The scientist 
himself was explaining these remarkable facts to 
the child Prince, who, together with the ladies- 
in-waiting and the chamberlains present, was 
able to follow the clear and lucid statements 
of Le Verrier. Keenly interested, young Louis 
Napoleon put ingenuous questions to him, which 
he endeavoured to answer with great urbanity. 
Just then the Sovereigns joined the circle of 
respectful courtiers. "What are you talking 
about ? " inquired the Empress. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 361 

" Madame," replied the eminent man, "His 
Imperial Highness is good enough to afford me 
his views on astronomy, and very remarkable 
views they are." 

Young Louis Napoleon did not question the 
truth of the compliment for a moment, but showed 
his extreme delight. His mother did not, how- 
ever, allow him to harbour this high opinion of 
himself and his scientific attainments. " Oh, sir," 
she said to Le Verrier, "pray do not flatter the 
poor child, who never has a chance of hearing the 
truth. As to his ideas on astronomy, I can quite 
imagine what they are." Then turning towards the 
heir-presumptive, she added somewhat sternly — 

" It is very good of Monsieur to listen to you 
at all. You are only a small boy like any other, 
and the best lesson you can get in astronomy just 
now is to go to your bed." 

Words of wisdom. At that time she joined 
issue with her husband in shaping the mind of the 
young Prince. But Napoleon III was no more. 
When she remained alone with her young son, 
she refused to share the ascendency which she 
exercised upon his moral nature. She maintained 
in exile the strong sense of Caesarian and oppres- 
sive authority, that same sense which had caused 
her to object in loud terms to the Liberal Empire, 
born of the Constitution of 1852. She shaped 
the mind of the young Pretender to such an 



362 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

extent that he unreservedly adopted her likings 
and antipathies, her religious and political views. 

In May 1874 the political majority of the 
Prince, then eighteen, was proclaimed in England 
in the presence of a large number of Imperialists. 
By a strange coincidence, about eight thousand 
people met in the little English borough, and 
among them were sixty-five Prefects, who had 
been dismissed on the 4th September, twelve 
late Ministers of Napoleon III and several 
members of the National Assembly. In obedience 
to the instructions received from his mother and 
from Rouher, the Prince boldly vindicated his 
Napoleonic rights before the deputations which 
had come to make their obeisance at Chislehurst. 1 

The young Prince had both character and 
determination. He was intelligent, though some- 
what impregnated with tendencies towards absolu- 
tism which were begotten of maternal teaching. 

1 The following article appeared in The Times of the next 
day — 

" The heir to the Bonapartes thus disposes of a complete 
Government. He holds the second Empire in his hands and 
only awaits a favourable opportunity to convert it into a third 
Empire. Though the second one was defeated by the Repub- 
licans and the Prussian invasion, its organization is intact, and 
both the Empire and the Prince Imperial are mentioned in 
Paris more than ever. The subject is ever being discussed as 
if no other political perspective existed. Beyond the restora- 
tion of an Empire there is nothing apparently but darkness and 
chaos." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 363 

Exile, misfortune and the terrible lessons im- 
parted to him by recent events had ripened him, 
however, and added a considerable amount of pru- 
dence and tact to the spirit of pride and chivalrous 
enthusiasm which he owed to his Spanish blood. 
Stimulated by the encouragements of those around 
him and urged by the incitements of those who 
wished to see him play an important part before 
long, he threw himself into work with wonderful 
energy. Weeks and months seemed all too short 
for all he wanted to learn. Constitutional history 
and the art of governing men were subjects which 
he made his own. 

He was only twenty-two, and yet his ideas 
were fashioned, his opinions were original, and 
his principles rested upon firm bases. His plans 
were well known, his programme was published. 
He did not mean to have a Parliamentary 
Government, but would so modify universal 
suffrage that it would cease to exist. It was also 
a matter of common knowledge that he meant to 
give as little control as possible to the deputies, 
because they would only constitute a third power 
in the State, very much beneath the House of 
Peers which, reconstituted, would form the true 
social aristocracy. So far as opposition was 
concerned he would admit of none, because he 
would have suborned all the newspapers, who 
would not dare to attack the Government that 



364 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

afforded them the means to live. He would 
reward men of merit and distinction. Those who 
endeavoured to live by disorder, to make a step- 
ping-stone of Revolution, would meet with scant 
mercy at his hand. " I will shoot them," he said, 
declaring upon this subject, as on many others, 
what his course of action would be as though he 
already wore a crown. " I will do this, things 
shall be effected in such wise, for such is my wish. 
When it is necessary to act I shall act." 1 Such 
determined expressions were repeated from mouth 
to mouth, and from his unevenly balanced pen 
came proclamations, memoirs and essays on 
constitutional subjects. 2 

1 This was the Absolutist programme which was drafted in 
conformity with the theocratic ideas of the ex-Empress. It 
was hardly likely to commend itself to the majority of French 
citizens, however, for they were not inclined to become once 
more the passive subjects of an arbitrary régime. 

2 Memorandum for the drafting of an Imperial constitu- 
tion : — 

"A country of 36,000,000 inhabitants cannot govern itself 
upon the bases of a democratic constitution by which all the 
citizens should share directly in the administration of public 
affairs, which must not, however, become the monopoly of the 
individual. 

" The complication of political questions proper, questions 
of law, administration and military art which has increased 
with the development of national unity and the spread of 
education ; the extraordinary inequality, both moral and 
intellectual, which exists between the inferior and superior 
classes of society, and has become more marked owing to the 
output of science and the division of labour, prove that the 
reins of government should remain in the hands of the ablest 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 365 

While tolerating the advice of many men of 
experience, who with one accord implored of him 

citizens and that public positions should become permanent 
careers. 

" It is therefore necessary in order to ensure respect for 
authority, stability and progress, as well as the efficient 
discharge of public duties, to create a governing class which 
shall become the practical aristocracy of which Napoleon I 
laid down the basis. 

" From a social point of view, an aristocracy is likewise 
indispensable. 

" Without an aristocracy there can be no polite society, no 
progress in matters intellectual or artistic. 

" An aristocracy constitutes a competent jury upon questions 
of honour, good taste and intellect. Such sanction as comes 
from it raises the mind and stimulates merit. A French 
aristocracy must be one in fact not one by right. 

" Its constitution should depend on the following conditions : 
'Firstly, public functions, charges and positions should be 
rendered independent of the central Government. Secondly, 
a nursery school of officials should be founded by creating 
families of public servants and educational establishments for 
the sons of the chosen classes.' " (This paragraph was struck 
out by the Prince Imperial.) 

"Without reverting to the feudal regime or violating in- 
dividual equality, it will be necessary to institute governing 
families, whose children's ambition will be to serve the 
commonwealth, and worthily bear a name intimately linked 
with national glory. An aristocracy of optimates worthy of the 
name will thus be formed in France, when political power and 
French administration will have been reconstituted upon the 
following lines — 

" Clause 1. The sovereignty does not reside in the majority 
of the nation, but in the properly constituted political bodies 
permanently representing France, not the French population, 
and acting in accordance with the people and the sovereign." 
(This too was struck out by the Prince Imperial.) 



3 66 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to atone for the mistake his father committed, 
by granting too much freedom to the nation, the 



"Clause 2. All citizens shall be equal in the eyes of the 
law, but shall enjoy different political rights in accordance 
with their social positions. 

" Third, the social rank shall be determined by the positions 
held by citizens, such positions being their personal pro- 
perty, in no way venal, but awarded to merit and withheld 
from incapacity. 

" Clause 4. Every citizen who by his talent, his fortune or 
his birth, is raised above the commonplace, shall have a 
distinct position in the State. 

"Thus shall all the forces of the country be used in the best 
interests of the country. 

"Clause 5. The obtainment of official positions shall be 
open to all, and those who hold them must be sufficiently 
independent of the Government to eschew favouritism, thus 
enabling the elite of all parties to serve the State under 
another regime than their own. Apart from the numerous 
staff of clerks and Government servants who hold positions too 
humble to enable them to play a part in the affairs of the 
State, we possess in France a class of politicians developed by 
Parliamentarianism, which at present constitutes the only 
national aristocracy. 

" It must be broken up and scattered to the winds. 

" Popularity is the only career that these tribunes can look 
forward to, and, side by side with them, we find a class of rich 
Jews and company promoters whose only calling is speculation. 
They, too, exercise considerable social and political influence. 
Bereft of religion, of patriotism or of any sense of duty, they 
wield immense power derived from capital. 

"This class too must be scattered, abolished. So long as it 
remains on foot, immorality and envy, inspired by the ill- 
acquired fortunes of the millionaires, must inevitably eat 
France away like a hideous leprosy. 

" It is not our desire to deny the great progress effected by 
our century nor to ignore Imperialist ideas." (This last 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 367 

young Prince dealt with unknown quantities in 
the most authoritative manner. His followers 
cannot sufficiently praise his resolute character. 
" He is indeed the son of an Emperor. His 
letters to his partisans are couched in terms of 
friendliness but also of command." Extreme 
eagerness was displayed by them, for one and 
all prayed ardently that the time might soon 
come when their Prince might put his daring 
projects into effect. They hoped that soon the 
repeated blunders of the Republicans would hand 
the Republic over to wiser and stronger masters. 

In France the agitation was intense. Generals 
had their hand upon the hilts of their swords 
awaiting the word of command. Oh, if Marshal 
MacMahon would only speak it ! Alas ! he does 
not yield to the urgent invitations of those who 
advise the Coup d'Etat. He remembers that he 
has pledged his word to maintain the existing 
order of things ! The progress of Radicalism 
caused him much regret, and no doubt he would 
have liked to come to an understanding with the 

sentence was crossed out by the Prince.) " We do not wish to 
get into the bed of the Bourbons, but we deem it indispensable 
for the sake of France to confer upon her institutions, conse- 
crated by the experience of centuries, and not by vain theories, 
and to hand back to her those traditions which made her 
France. 

" (Signed) Napoleon. 
" Chiskhurst, March 1878." 



3 68 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Empire. He was the subject of daily complaints. 
They said he was weak, inconsistent, blown hither 
and thither by every wind, and they despaired of 
ever attaining their object through him. " Where 
are we drifting? What will become of us?" 
Such were the plaints expressed each day. While 
the authors of the Restoration, that had so often 
proved abortive, deplored this indefinite conduct 
of the Marshal, and expressed their sorrow as 
often as the opportunity arose, an incredible item 
of news suddenly threw confusion in their minds 
and senses. The young Pretender, tired of doing 
nothing and of being nobody, had resolved upon a 
most unforeseen course. In a public letter ad- 
dressed to Eugène Rouher, he informed his 
adherents of his departure for the Cape, where he 
meant to throw in his lot with and share the dangers 
of the British expedition in Zululand. Such a 
determination seemed incomprehensible at first, 
for they could not understand that the Empress 
should have consented to the departure of 
her son. The brains of the Imperialists were 
racked for a satisfactory explanation, and as a 
result, reasons plausible or imaginary, positive or 
romantic, were adduced. 

Some said that the decision of Louis Napo- 
leon was due to his love-affair with a young 
foreign Princess, who urged him to earn distinction 
and the applause of his countrymen by the 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 369 

committal of brave deeds. More circumstantial 
was the gossip concerning a less idealistic attach- 
ment, the results of which were supposed to have 
been as awkward as they were regrettable. Miss 
Charlotte Watkins was the person mentioned. 1 
She was in a humble position, and did not for a 
moment suspect the real identity of her friend, as 
he had told her that he was merely a young man 
inspired by ardent love but with ambitions as 
restricted as were his means. Well-informed 
persons said they knew the place where the 
assignations were made and kept by the incognito 
lovers. 

1 " The merest chance brought me into touch with a lady who 
had known Dumont, the French hairdresser in London whose 
clientele was composed of members of the British aristocracy. 
She kindly provided me with the following details concerning 
this love episode of Prince Napoleon — 

" When the Prince grew tired of the monotonous life he led 
at Chislehurst he used to come to London, where he stayed in 
Dumont's house. There he had very modest quarters, the 
quarters of a second lieutenant, as he used to say laughingly. 
(They are still preserved intact with their furniture. The bed- 
room contains the bed, a dressing-table and cupboard, with a 
few chairs only.) The Prince Imperial, abandoning all etiquette, 
used to receive his friends in this modest abode, and it was at 
this address that he received his private correspondence. He 
used to come and dress there when dining in town, and 
Dumont has still preserved the last ties worn by him previous 
to his departure to the Cape. 

" It was during one of his trips to London that the son of 
Napoleon III met a young girl travelling alone, as English 
girls very often do. On the journey they made each other's 
acquaintance, and when they arrived at the station their 

A A 



37o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Later on, a fairy tale and legend woven upon 
this question with the aid of all sorts of matter as 
indiscreet as it is interesting, was published by- 
Alfred Darimon. Letters were also published. 1 

It was related that one day Miss Charlotte 
Watkins, the "dear Lottie" of Louis Walter 
(Louis Napoleon), had come to Camden Place 
with her child (their child) and that she had been 
sent away from the Castle. A book, nay a novel, 
which was really but a novel, 2 was published on 
the subject. 

There was an appearance of truth in the detail 
of this passing liaison, which was a natural one at 
the age of the Prince, but as to its results and 
consequences, they were purely imaginary. Louis 
Napoleon had no son in England, and upon this 
question his conscience was quite at rest when he 
left England and Europe. We have perused the 

friendship had already begun. It is interesting to note that 
Miss Watkins little knew she had conquered the heart of the 
son of Napoleon III, for he never declared his identity to her, 
for two reasons. Firstly, he feared the publicity that such a 
liaison might give rise to, and secondly, his mother kept him 
so short of money that he found it impossible to create a 
position for his lady-love adequate to his own social standing 
and high birth" ("Old Paper," by A. Darimon- in the Figaro, 
the ioth January, 1887). 

1 Clifford Millage of the Daily Chronicle was the first to 
publish the so-called letters of the Prince Imperial to his 
beloved Lottie. 

a In our work The Women of the Second Empire we were 
ourselves misled, for we endorsed this inaccurate version. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 371 

baptismal certificate of " Walter Kelly," the sup- 
posed offspring of this princely love affair, and we 
have compared dates. 1 The extract of the registry 
of Corpus Christi Church in London affords no 
doubt as to the fact that the child was born 
thirteen months after the death of the Prince 
Imperial and seventeen months after his departure 
from England, and that during that time his 
mother never left London. 

The cause of the Prince's departure must 
be sought elsewhere. Some endeavoured to 
explain it by the awkward position which had 
sprung up between the Empress and her son 

1 " Walter Kelly " was sent with the children of servants and 
artisans to the Christian Brothers' School of St. Joseph at 
Issy. The monthly fees, amounting to 34 francs, were paid by a 
protector whose generosity was somewhat limited, for that was 
the minimum amount for which a child could be kept. Walter 
Kelly was never visited by any one. The Abbé Eugène Misset, 
who solved this mystery, described to me one day how he did 
it. He made up his mind to find the " Prince Imperial," and 
with that object he called upon the Superior of the little school 
of St. Joseph, to whom he said, " I wish to have full information 
concerning your pupil Walter Kelly." 

The Superior replied : " He is the only boarder here about 
whom I can afford you no information, but you are quite 
welcome to peruse the list of the pupils." That was^ll the 
Abbé Misset wanted. He compared the entries of the school 
registry with the copy of the baptismal certificate in his posses- 
sion, and was satisfied that Walter Kelly, or young Watkins as he 
was, was not a legitimate or illegitimate descendant of the Bona- 
partes. On the following day he called upon the child's protector, 
and proved to him, figures in hand, that such was the fact. He 
had attained his object and was satisfied. 



372 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

since he came of age. Louis Napoleon was 
deeply attached to his mother, and she loved 
him intensely, but with an affection that could 
not help being domineering and all-pervading. 
Moreover, he felt somewhat ill at ease owing to 
the limitations placed by her upon his enthusiastic 
and somewhat romantic nature. The maternal 
will, too eager to protect him against the impulses 
of his generous heart, too anxious to curtail the 
enjoyment of to-day's pleasures in the interests of 
his future, kept him in a state of penury such that 
he made barely sufficient money for his actual 
wants. This was well known in his entourage, 
and is well illustrated by the following anecdote, 
which I take from the diary of Bauer. Shortly 
before his departure for Zululand he invited some 
friends to dine at a London club, but as their 
number was greater than he had foreseen, he had 
not sufficient money to pay the bill, and was 
obliged to borrow some from one of his guests. 
He often declined invitations, because he felt 
he could not adequately return them. " The 
Empress," says the author of Napoleon IV, "did 
not s?em to realize that the child had become a 
man, and the woman who several times had been 
Regent of France could not efface herself in the 
presence of her son, now the head of the family. 
Awkward conditions ensued, such as the with- 
holding from Prince Napoleon of the fortune 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 373 

bequeathed to him by Princess Bacciochi during 
seven long years, at the end of which a private 
court of arbitration was appointed to inquire into 
the financial position afforded to the Prince by his 
father's legacy and the seven years' accumulated 
interest on the Bacciochi fortune. Billault, 
Grandperret and Pinard, three late Ministers 
of Napoleon III, were entrusted with the task. 
The fortune of the Prince was declared to be 
sufficient, but no hurry was displayed when it 
came to handing it over to him, and his position 
remained as precarious as ever. Sooner than exist 
in dire poverty he preferred to seek distinction in 
Africa. The tutelage under which he lived had 
proved too drastic and, in many ways, impolitic, 
notwithstanding the best maternal intentions that 
dictated it. Moreover, a thirst for glory and the 
desire to assert himself urged him to gain dis- 
tinction, whether in the Balkans or in South 
Africa. Some of his partisans were dumfounded, 
some enthused. The former were terrified by the 
prospect of the dangers of the sea voyage, the 
climate and the campaign, at a time when an 
appeal might be made at any moment calling upon 
the Prince to return to France. "He must not 
abandon us ; his departure must be prevented at 
any cost," they said. 

The optimists declared that he should be 
encouraged and applauded in the accomplishment 



374 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of this heroic deed. Daring exploits were best 
accomplished at his age, and he would return 
from a distant campaign covered with glory, with 
increased prestige. His acts of courage and 
devotion would definitely earn for him the respect 
and esteem of the French nation. They went so 
far as to say that the return of Louis Napoleon 
would recall that of Napoleon I from Egypt, 
when he came back from an expedition which, 
in accordance with the expressed wish of the 
British commander, was to imply nothing but a 
military spectacle on African soil, so far as the 
young Prince was concerned. The situation was 
more accurately judged, and its just proportions 
better respected, by calmer critics. General Pajol, 
ever ready to unsheathe his sword and lead the 
Bonapartist troops against Republican institutions, 
formally disapproved of this adventure under the 
British flag. He admitted that the action of the 
Prince would rivet public attention, but was this 
action in accordance with his exalted destiny ? 
The risks it offered were far greater than its 
somewhat uncertain advantages. He endeavoured 
to explain this to the son of Napoleon III, but the 
Prince had previously declared on more than one 
occasion that once he made up his mind no one 
could induce him to alter it. He attempted to 
prove it on this occasion. 

He was as pious as he was wilful, having 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 375 

inherited these two maternal traits. He declared 
his intention to hear Mass and partake of Com- 
munion before leaving Chislehurst. Having done 
so he left at nine o'clock and was seen off by the 
Empress and a few intimate friends, Baron Tristan 
Lambert, Franceschini Pietri, Baron Corvisart, the 
Duke of Feltre, and five other people. He soon set 
foot on the vessel which bore him to his sad fate. 
The British nation followed his movements with 
great sympathy. All the sovereigns of Europe 
had sent private messages containing kind wishes 
to Napoleon's widow. With marked solicitude 
Queen Victoria proceeded to comfort the mother's 
aching heart. At the risk of wounding the sus- 
ceptibilities of the French Government, the Queen 
of England and her ministers did not deem it 
their duty to limit or constrain the expression of 
British sentiment, and when the ship weighed 
anchor the Tricolour flag was run up the main- 
mast and the echo repeated the acclamations of 
the crowd. The Empress sobbed until she reached 
Southampton, and that night she cried bitterly at 
the banquet. While Generals proposed toasts in 
her honour and that of the Prince, while the young 
officers drank the health of the members of her 
suite, her gaze wandered in the direction that 
absorbed her anxious thoughts and seemed to 
follow her child, her only son, not the Pretender 
to a throne, not the heir to the name and fortunes 



376 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

of the Bonapartes. At the last moment, at the 
moment of parting, she tried to master the emotion 
which racked her. She embraced him with effusion, 
then snatching herself from his arms she reached 
the upper storey of the hotel and watched the final 
preparations for departure. As the ship steamed 
slowly out of harbour, and became lost to sight, her 
strength betrayed her. Prostrate and unconscious, 
she fell. Her followers bore her to the train, which 
started an hour before its time. The next day 
scores of testimonies of devotion and words of 
consolation reached her at her residence. In order 
to comfort her maternal heart, she was told that 
God would protect her son and preserve him for 
the salvation of France. She read these letters 
and telegrams over and over again, endeavouring 
to place full faith in such expressions of encourage- 
ment and confidence. Nevertheless her heart 
was pierced by mortal anguish and dread presenti- 
ments. Her fears increased when she received 
the first tidings from Africa. They informed her 
that the passage had been a very rough one, and 
that on landing the Prince had been seized with 
fever. She had barely recovered from the 
emotions and sadness caused by his departure, 
and her condition became so unsatisfactory that 
she could not leave her room. She refused all 
consolation, and remained alone, bearing her 
sufferings in silence. She had sent word to all 



ffur^ 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 377 

her friends that she could not see them. Little 
by little she became more peaceful and resigned 
as she received bright and encouraging messages 
from the Prince Imperial. The fact that he had 
gone to the front was sufficient proof of his 
recovery. 

General Lord Chelmsford had just arrived by 
special train from the Lower Tugela and had 
appointed the Prince on his staff. On hearing 
the news the Empress wrote a charming letter 
to Lady Chelmsford, which was graciously acknow- 
ledged. Due precautions had been taken to pro- 
tect the Prince against the consequences of his 
own bravery. He did not conceal his joy 
at taking part in the campaign with British 
troops. His charming nature begot the affection 
of all around him, who appreciated the serious 
side of his character as well as his physical 
prowess and his powers of endurance. He was 
an excellent horseman. In England, the news 
from the Cape was eagerly commented upon. 
Some unfortunate occurrences had been notified, 
but they had been contradicted in two most 
interesting letters. 

One of them was written by the Prince to his 
old friend Rouher. He described how he had 
effected a long ride on horseback under a scorch- 
ing sun, without feeling the slightest ill effects 
from it. 



378 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

The second letter emanated from the Empress. 
She stated that though at first she had felt keen 
apprehension, she was now much more mistress 
of herself, and that all reports to the contrary- 
were inaccurate. She went on to say that on the 
eve, Cardinal de Bonnechose had informed her 
that each day during Holy Mass he invoked the 
protection of God upon her son. As Louis wore 
around his neck blessed medals, she felt that he 
was fully protected against all danger. But, alas ! 
Heaven, so often implored by her in days of 
stress, remained deaf and indifferent to her 
prayer and could not see its way to change 
the course of events that left her a lone widow, 
robbed of her only child. 

Alarming rumours were suddenly spread, mys- 
terious and ill-defined, like presages that impart 
all the more fear as they are surrounded by dark 
shadows. Each minute they became more pre- 
cise, more pessimistic. The Empress was the 
last to hear of the death of the Prince Imperial, 
the news of which had long since reached London 
and Paris. The awful blow was struck quite 
soon enough. On the Friday a letter marked 
urgent and addressed to Jean Pietri was delivered 
by hand from the railway station. Pietri was out 
and the Empress received the letter, the contents 
of which she suspected, owing to the unerring 
instinct by which the human heart is never de- 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 379 

ceived in the case of grave misfortunes. She 
hurriedly broke the seal, tore open the envelope 
and read, without quite understanding, a portion 
of the awful truth. Just then Lord Sidney called 
on behalf of Queen Victoria. The mission en- 
trusted to him was a heavy and a difficult one, 
and the Duke de Bassano, an old and tried friend 
of the Imperial Family, offered to perform it in his 
stead. He entered the Empress's room. At the 
first glance she understood that an awful calamity 
had occurred. 

" Madame, there are bad tidings, very bad 
tidings of the Prince." 

" My son, my son ! Is he ill ? Is he 
wounded ? Oh, I wish to join him ! I shall start 
forthwith for the Cape." 

" Madame," murmured Bassano, whose voice 
was choked with tears, " Madame, it would be 
useless to do so. It is too late." 
She uttered a low cry and collapsed. 
Gloomy days followed. The coffin was ex- 
pected in England. The Empress did not leave 
her apartments, which remained closed to the light 
of day and to all visitors, save a few intimate 
friends such as the Duchess de Mouchy and 
Viscountess Aguado. There she lay, heedless 
of food, absorbed by her grief, referring to the 
one and only subject. 

How had he been so cruelly taken ? By what 



3 8o THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

appalling concourse of circumstances ? What did 
he say ? What did he suffer on that distant African 
soil ? 

It had been decided not to apprise her of the 
arrival of the remains until they had been con- 
veyed to the hall in Camden Place, their last 
stage but one. All arrangements had been made 
by the British officials, who ordained a funeral 
worthy of him and of the country he had served. 

During the early hours of the ioth July, the 
Admiralty yacht Enchantress was to receive in 
Spithead harbour the mortal remains that had 
been conveyed in the Orontes, a transport com- 
manded by Captain Seymour. When the trans- 
lation was effected the Enchantress returned to 
Woolwich ; the Prince of Wales, the Duke of 
Connaught, the Duke of Cambridge, and other 
princes of the blood were assembled on the pier. 

The coffin was landed and placed in a room 
draped in black, where the preliminary formalities 
took place. The supposed identification of the 
mangled body was certified owing to the presence 
of certain marks upon it. It was borne by officers 
of the Royal Artillery, placed upon a gun-carriage 
drawn by six horses, and thus conveyed to 
Chislehurst. 

A large body of troops attended the funeral 
on the 1 2th July. One hundred thousand 
people surrounded the little church. The sad 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS *8i 



ceremony has been repeatedly described in 
books and newspapers. The delicate consola- 
tions afforded by Queen Victoria to a weeping 
woman, not to a Sovereign but to a mother, 1 
the enormous concourse of people who came from 
different directions to attend the funeral, and the 
honours paid to the poor Prince have been 
dealt with at length. 

The Prince's room was transformed into a 
chapel while that of the Empress remained in 
darkness. She wished to see nothing, to hear 
nothing. Each boom of the cannon from 
without made her scream, and brought on a 
nervous attack. It was in this darkened room 
that, moved by pity, Queen Victoria came to see 
her before taking her seat in the tribune that had 
been erected for her as Sovereign, and from 
which she witnessed the march past of the 
immense gathering. All Bonapartist France 
was there. Prince Jérôme Napoleon led the 
mourners, wearing the broad ribbon of the 
Legion of Honour. The Empress had sent 
word to him that, though crushed by grief, she 
would receive him after the funeral. He had 
come to perform a duty, and preferred to return 

1 The wife of Marshal Canrobert expressed her deep sorrow 
at the demise of a Prince prevented by his early death from 
giving effect to high, lofty and legitimate ambitions. The 
Empress replied, " It is the loss of my boy that I mourn." 



382 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

to France without availing himself of her invita- 
tion. He knew the tenor of the Prince's will. 1 

1 It seems interesting to reproduce the document in its 
entirety. It affords us an insight into the personal feelings of 
the Prince, his fortune, which was comparatively small, and 
shows the influences wrought by one Eugene Rouher, the 
trusted adviser of the Empress, upon his mind and political 
opinions until his departure from Chislehurst. 

" Camden Place, 

" Chislehurst, 

" 26th February, 1879. 

" This is my last will and testament — 

" 1. I die as I was born, in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman 
Church. 

" 2. I wish my remains to lie by the side of those of my father 
until such time as both our bodies are transferred to the resting- 
place of the founder of our dynasty — among the French people 
that we loved so well. 

" 3. My last thought will be devoted to my country, in whose 
behalf I should like to die. 

" 4. I hope that when I am no more my mother will still hold 
me in remembrance as affectionate as I shall bestow upon her 
until I die. 

"5. I trust that my private friends, my retainers and my poli- 
tical adherents may remain convinced, that my gratitude 
towards them will never falter as long as I live. 

11 6. I will die with feelings of deepest gratitude towards her 
Majesty the Queen of England, all the members of the Royal 
Family, and towards the country which for the past eight years 
has shown me such hospitality. 

" I hereby appoint my well-beloved mother my universal 
legatee, subject to her discharging the following bequests — 

" I bequeath : 200,000 francs (^8000) to my cousin Prince 
J. N. Murat. 

";£4°o° to M. G. Pietri, as a token of my gratitude for 
services rendered by him. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 383 

He felt that he could hardly meet her on a day 
when his position towards her had become well- 

"^£4000 to Baron de Corvisart, as a reward for his devotion. 

";£*40oo to Mdlle. de Larminat who has been so devoted to 
my mother. 

" ^4000 to Mr. A. Filon, my late tutor. 

",£4000 each to M. L. N. Conneau, M. Lespinasse, and 
Captain A Bizot, three of my oldest friends. 

" I request my darling mother to serve an annuity of ^400 
to Prince J. J. Bonaparte, one of ^200 to M. Bachon, my 
late equerry, one of ^"ioo each to Madame Thierry and to 
Uhlman. 

" I request that all my other servants may be paid their wages 
during the remainder of their lifetime. 

" I bequeath to M. Charles Bonaparte, to the Duke of Bas- 
sano, and to Mr. Rouher, three of my most valuable works of 
art, to be chosen for them by the executors of my will. 

" I also bequeath to General Simmons, to M. Strode, and to 
Monsignor Goddard, three souvenirs to be chosen by my 
executors among my valuables. 

" I bequeath to M. Pietri a cat's-eye pin, to Baron de Cor- 
visart a pink pearl, and to Mdlle. de Larminat, a locket 
containing the portraits of my father and my mother. 

" To Madame le Breton I leave my enamelled watch with my 
initials in diamonds. 

" To M. Conneaue, Espinasse, Bizot, Murât, A Fleury, P. de 
Bourgoing, S. Corvisart, all my weapons and uniforms, save the 
last one worn by me, which I bequeath to my beloved mother. 

" I bequeath to Madame la Comtesse Clary my pearl pin, 
and my Spanish swords to my cousin, the Duke of Huescar. 

"The foregoing will is written by my own hand and bears 
my seal. 

"Napoleon. 

" Codicil : 

" I need not request of my mother to defend the memories 
of my great-uncle and my father. I beg of her to remember 
that as long as a Bonaparte is spared, the Imperial cause will 



384 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

nigh untenable, owing to the dispositions of a will 
inspired by Rouher, which disinherited him as 
head of the dynasty and conferred his rights and 
privileges as such upon his son. 

Countless telegrams and letters of condolence 
reached Camden Place. A few weeks later the 
editor of an important London paper published 
a private message of the ex- Empress. It began 
with the following words — 

" Henceforth I can find no comfort on this 
earth now that I have lost my beloved child." 

She suffered a fatal blow through the tragic 
end of this son, whose future prospects had 
absorbed her whole life from the day she realized 
that all other ambitions were denied to her. The 
mainspring of her energy gave way. She had 
played her part, and for the remainder of her 
existence she would be the Countess de Pierre- 
fonds, endeavouring to lull her grief by travel, 
but always living between two mausoleums. 

have representatives and followers. The duties of our House 
towards the nation do not cease to exist at my death ; when- 
ever it occurs, the task of continuing the work of Napoleon the 
First and Napoleon the Third will devolve upon the eldest son 
of Prince Napoleon, and I hope that by seconding him with 
all her might, my mother will afford this last proof of her love 
to those of us who are no more. I appoint MM. Pietri and 
Rouher executors to my will. 

"Napoleon. 
11 Chhhhurst, 

" 26 February, 1879." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 385 

Sentiment with her was always the primary- 
cause which made her speak or act, but re- 
flection obtained the upper hand, as soon as the 
spontaneous impulse, the sudden crisis, or the 
irritation of the moment had subsided. When 
every vestige of hope had deserted her soul, she 
was pacified if not consoled. 

In a like manner she became completely de- 
tached from political ambition, and endeavoured 
to wrench from her memory all recollections 
of past grievances and enmities. The Prince 
Napoleon, the most turbulent of all the Bona- 
partes, was appeased by her. 

In 1883 a reconciliation took place between 
them. That it was not complete and unreserved, 
was due to the fact that Eugénie had not forgotten 
everything, or to the will by which the Prince 
had deprived him of the right of succession in 
behalf of his own son, whom Eugénie likewise 
favoured. 

The family of Bonaparte was gradually thinning 
under the eyes of the ex- Empress. 

The first to disappear was Napoleon III, the 
ephemeral restorer of the dynasty. He was soon 
followed by his son Louis, upon whom such 
brilliant hopes were founded. A few years later 
Jérôme Napoleon died. 

During the month of March 1891 his barren 
and incoherent destiny came to an end in a Roman 



3 86 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

mansion, situated close to the chapel where lie 
the remains of Princess Borghese, and to the 
palace in which the mother of the Great Emperor 
breathed her last, a blind, helpless and abandoned 
woman. Prince Napoleon's end was that of the 
majority of his race, which seemed doomed to 
exile and to early death. His adventurous 
personality passed away full of weirdness and 
mystery, and fate had denied to him even one 
historic hour. He nearly became Emperor of 
France and reigning Prince abroad ; he hoped to 
sleep in the bed of Napoleon I, and was almost 
proclaimed King of Hungary. Under the third 
Republic he attempted to play the part of a Caius 
Gracchus, and to triumph all at once over 
constitutional impossibilities and the fruitless 
chronicles of Parliaments. He had broad views 
and aspirations, but they ended in dreams, and 
all that he saw, all that he grasped, consisted of 
glimmers of success and the shadows of power. 

A strange personality upon which we will dwell 
for a few minutes. After the downfall of the 
Empire, the third Republic forthwith deprived him 
of his rank. He had rallied to it by becoming 
citizen Napoleon Bonaparte in 1849. He assumed 
the airs of a Pretender before long, and issued Na- 
poleonic manifestoes instead of radical professions 
of faith. In 1883 the walls were placarded with an 
Imperial proclamation which called for the dismissal 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 387 

of certain ministers and resulted in his own expul- 
sion. He had ended this, his so-called Liberal 
proclamation, by quoting a sentence borrowed 
from the most autocratic of men. " Frenchmen, 
remember the words of Napoleon I, ' Everything 
that is done without the consent of the people is 
illegitimate, illegal' " A firm guarantee of freedom, 
forsooth, was afforded by the promises of such a 
shepherd of the people as the first Bonaparte. 
Notwithstanding the disavowal of Prince Jérôme 
contained in the will, the death of the Prince 
Imperial had really made him the dynastic heir. 
His famous letter of the 3rd April, 1880, written to 
a friend on the subject of the decrees of the 29th 
March, alienated the whole Conservative party 
from him. His newspapers abandoned him, his 
son Victor, who neither shared his religious nor his 
political views, yielded to the request of the Duke 
of Padua and of several political men whose 
instrument he was. He openly rebelled against 
the paternal authority. His revolt so angered 
Prince Napoleon that he threw this son out of his 
heart and existence, closing his door upon him, 
relentless in his anger, even in the throes of death. 
His last conspiracy had been the Boulanger 
movement. He had no great faith in the personal 
value of Boulanger, but hoped to find his supreme 
chance of success in this venture, which he seized 
upon with avidity. Had it succeeded, the rebel 



188 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 



soldier and the exiled Prince would have submitted 
themselves to a plebiscite. The chosen one 
would have kept the stakes. Jérôme Napoleon 
harboured this last illusion, certain that he would 
win the day, thanks to the power of his name. 
When he failed his last hope vanished. He felt 
that the game was lost for ever, and retired to his 
Prangins estate, where he cheated the monotony 
of exile by playing chess with his secretaries and 
his guests. 

Jérôme Napoleon was a revolutionary theorist 
and a partisan of stern authority. His doctrine 
was very involved and differed widely from the 
ordinary formulae of Bonapartism. He strongly 
condemned the omnipotence of an assembly of 
privileged ones who dubbed themselves members 
of Parliament. He laid down as a dogma the 
principle of popular election, the sovereignty of 
the nation directly exercised by a plebiscite, the 
right of the country to elect its chief and adopt 
such regime as met with the approval of the 
majority. The Bonapartist policy, such as he 
conceived it, should exist for his own ends, should 
institute a Republic organized according to such 
principles of authority, responsibility and control 
as obtained in great democracies and in all 
representative governments. I n a word, he wanted 
a Republic, the president of which should 
necessarily be a Napoleon. What capabilities 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 389 

did this man dispose of for the application of such 
ideas ? 

His intelligence was both prompt and lucid. 
He possessed initiative and resolution. He was 
eloquent and wrote in a simple but most expressive 
style. He was a brilliant conversationalist and 
a man of keen wit. He had qualities which 
together with the prestige of his name seemed to 
entitle him to shine in the front rank. He could 
never put them to use, however, for he was always 
enslaved by the inconsequence of his nature, the 
want of popularity, the suspicion in which he was 
held by his own party, and the disappointment of 
a wasted life. During the last ten years of his 
existence he lived in the margin of the Republic, 
just as he had spent the previous twenty years in 
the margin of the Empire, in glorious irrespon- 
sibility. The hopeless turbulence of his character, 
the roughness of his manner, the heedless and 
insolent contempt with which he treated public 
opinion, such were the causes of his undoing. He 
never had the chance of showing his strength either 
under the Empire or after its downfall. When he 
could have occupied a prominent position at the 
height of the Imperial prosperity, everything was 
done to keep him in the background. The 
Emperor appreciated his cousin but feared his 
jealousy. The Empress and her camarilla, her 
counsellors, her intimate circle, all did their best to 



390 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

nullify the Emperor's sympathy towards Jérôme. 
Such missions as were entrusted to him abroad 
were of no importance, and in most cases they were 
known beforehand to be abortive. His European 
intrigues displeased every one. His plan for 
reconstituted Poland, as a revenge for 1813, was 
looked upon as a dangerous chimera, although 
the Empress was the first to wish for a coalition 
in favour of the re-establishment of a Polish 
and Catholic monarchy. Often, he might have 
obviated serious blunders upon more solid grounds, 
but in such cases a deaf ear was always turned to 
his warning. Do what he might, write what he 
might, at no time of his career was Jerome 
Napoleon ever able to outlive that unpopularity 
which was all the more egregious as it was based 
upon an ignominious legend. He was one of the 
most hated men of his time. He openly displayed 
his own hatred of men, and did not sufficiently hide 
his ardent love for women, the second, but most 
important portion of humanity. The middle 
classes disowned him. They considered that he 
had no morality ; he did not save appearances, but 
advertised his foibles. 

This Prince knew how to speak but could not 
remain silent. With him, truth expressed itself 
by anger. He seemed to take pleasure in daring 
public sentiment and private susceptibilities on 
all occasions. Unaccompanied by virtues, his 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 391 

qualities recoiled upon himself. Religious people 
were offended by his free-thinking statements. 
His noisy hostility towards religious ideas which 
are so precious in the eyes of the wealthy and the 
powerful, deprived him of Conservative support 
without winning over the Radical party. His 
frankness was termed cynicism. All parties 
mistrusted him. The Bonapartists would not 
accept him and the Republicans refused his 
advances. His partisans formed a very meagre 
escort, and no one among his intimate friends 
could withstand the onslaught of his imperious 
caprice. Prince Napoleon felt convinced that 
he could effect great purposes if once he 
obtained authority. As it was, he was com- 
pelled to stand with folded arms, notwithstanding 
the enormous advantages accruing to him from 
the name he bore, the political experience he had 
acquired, and the general views he had formed in 
the administration of business. Every attempt 
on his part led to disappointment. His appetites 
were greater than his ambition, and this explains 
in a word why he remained unto the last an 
expectant in politics and a self-indulging, un- 
bridled member of society. With all his vices 
and shortcomings he was a Prince of high mind 
and stern character, but history would have none 
of him, though his views were wide and his 
aspirations exalted. 



392 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

When he disappeared, it could in truth be said 
that the last actor in the Bonapartist drama had 
left the stage. 

The ex-Empress remained like a great lonely 
shadow, and when she did not arrest the public 
gaze and the attention of the world, that gaze only 
beheld supernumeraries without a past, actors 
without a part, nonentities, the last representatives 
of a dynasty irrevocably doomed. 

She left Chislehurst and came to reside at 
Farnborough, thirty-two miles from London and 
half-way between the Royal Military College at 
Sandhurst and Aldershot Camp. The property 
used to be called Windmill Hill, and was sold by 
Longman, the publisher, to the Imperial exile. 

The beauties of the surrounding country 
would have sufficed to keep the Empress at 
Farnborough. Hidden in verdure, surrounded 
with oak and beech trees, with its fields of pink 
heather and a large park, its artificial lakes and 
wooded islands created by ingenious hands, this 
picturesque residence had yet another and a far 
greater claim upon the Empress. She had left 
Camden Place because she found it impossible to 
erect a mausoleum there to the memory of her 
husband and her son, having tried in vain to 
purchase a field to the west of St. Mary's Church, 
and adjacent to the Chislehurst estate. The 
owner had declined to sell the ground, and it was 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 393 

then suggested to the Empress that she should 
build a commemorative chapel to the north of the 
church. She declined to do so, for she was 
most superstitious and remembered a legend of 
her youth to the effect that graves facing north 
never receive a ray of sun. She sought for an 
abode more hospitable to her dear absent ones 
and chose Farnborough. There she entrusted to 
a French architect the building of an abbey called 
St. Michael's Abbey. Monks were installed whose 
duty it was to hold daily services in the chapel 
and to show visitors the beautiful marble slabs 
of the altar, the tombs of Napoleon III and of the 
Prince Imperial, and also the burial-place which 
she had chosen for herself next to that of her son. 
A bridge was built between the abbey and her 
garden. From her windows she could see the 
monument which contained the remains of her 
beloved ones. 1 

She became attached to Farnborough, the 
rooms of which she furnished with objects that 
were dear to her, and with family portraits. In 
the main hall is hung the canvas by Winter- 
halter, representing her at the Tuileries surrounded 
by her guests. The little chariot of the Prince 
Imperial, given to him by the Prince Consort fifty 
years previously, was also placed in the hall. The 

1 See the excellent work of Mr. Edward Legge, entitled 
The Imperial Exiles in England. 



394 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Bonaparte portraits adorn the reception rooms 
of the ground floor, upon which is the study of 
the Empress appropriately furnished, and also the 
library containing the principal works of modern 
English literature. The wide gallery which runs 
the whole length of the house is hung with 
marvellous Gobelin tapestries, and contains glass 
cases filled with Sèvres porcelain that belonged to 
Napoleon I. The iron drawing-room contains 
Napoleonic relics, forming a family museum, every 
object of which is a historical document. Farn- 
borough is replete with everything that can interest 
the ex-Empress. The resting-room with its wide 
bow windows looking north and west, the school- 
room, a family shrine containing all the books and 
instruments of the late Prince, and the marble 
statue at the foot of which grows the African 
grass plucked by the Empress in Zululand. 
These plants were uprooted from the very spot 
on which he fell. For some years Farnborough 
proved a most desirable residence, but gradually 
she concluded that even there she had not found 
that complete peace which she had hoped for. 
The wounds of her heart were far from healed. 
The road which crosses the estate and leads to 
London is one of a thousand which feed the 
enormous traffic of the English capital. All day 
long it is used by carriages, drays and motor- 
cars, causing dust, noise and smoke. Hence her 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 395 

frequent absences from Farnborough. Travelling 
became a constant necessity. On several occasions 
she was the welcome guest in the different royal 
residences of Queen Victoria. She went for 
several cruises, notably in Gordon Bennett's 
yacht. During one of them she stopped at Zucco, 
where she had first met the Due d'Aumale. 
They both met there again, free from all political 
cares, their souls filled with similar disillusions. 
On another occasion she met the Prince of Wales, 
and was struck, as well as gratified, by the 
wonderful kindness and attention bestowed upon 
her by the future King of England. Under the 
name of Countess de Pierrefonds she endeavoured 
to cheat her sadness and her thoughts in Scotland, 
Italy and Provence. During winter she elected 
to reside in her small villa at Cap Martin. She 
was attracted towards this grass-covered rock 
which, like a spur, projects from the French soil 
into the Mediterranean. There was no more 
Villa Eugénie, no more Biarritz for her, but at 
Cap Martin she enjoyed the same bright sky, 
and gazed upon the same vast horizon so fitting 
to those feelings and sentiments of infinite great- 
ness that filled her soul. The contemplation of 
sea, this great mysterious chimera, evoked in her 
the deepest thought. The following lines in 
Bauer's diary afford a striking impression of these 
periodical journeys to the south of France : On a 



396 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

fine afternoon the late preacher of the Tuileries 
was driving along the Mentone road. The 
carriage proceeded slowly, and as the priest was 
enjoying the marvellous beauty of this exquisite 
spot a modest conveyance hailed from the 
direction of Cap Martin, and stopped just as the 
two vehicles were about to pass each other. 
Two aged women alighted, the one very stooped, 
leaning on a stick and upon the arm of her com- 
panion. He at once recognized the Countess de 
Pierrefonds. She abandoned her companion's 
arm for a moment, and with the help of her long 
ebony stick she walked over to a parapet over- 
hanging the sea. She leaned upon it and steadily 
gazed towards a point across the horizon where 
the contours of Corsica could faintly be discerned. 
Her mind apparently travelled back to the origin 
and downfall of the family with which Fate had 
so strangely linked her. Having long perused 
the undulating line of the Corsican coast she 
returned to her carriage without even noticing 
the presence of her quondam friend who had 
saluted her respectfully. "As the cumbersome 
barouche drove away I recalled the whole past, the 
Tuileries, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Saint-Cloud, 
Compiègne, Fontainebleau, the Imperial chaise, 
the Hundred Guards, and above all, the supreme 
power and the dazzling beauty of this woman. 
Of all this nothing remained." 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 397 

Now and again some exceptional circumstance 
would recall her to the memory of this world to 
which she had ceased to belong. She was not a 
woman who could ever resign herself to being 
completely ignored, although she had torn from 
her existence the last shred of Shaftesbury's 
golden optimism. She supplied news of herself 
to Europe on the occasion of a princely visit or a 
sensational marriage, the knot of which she had 
helped to tie, such as that of her god-child, 
Princess Ena of Battenberg with the young 
King of Spain. Another match much spoken of 
had been arranged by her between the Duke of 
Turin and an Austrian Archduchess. 

In 1906 the papers were full of the reception 
afforded to her by the Emperor Francis Joseph. 
On her way from Venice she stopped at Ischl. 
Francis Joseph had sent an Imperial train to 
meet her. On the nth July, before eight 
o'clock in the morning, the Emperor, accompanied 
by Count Paar, his aide-de-camp, came to the 
station of Vienna in an open carriage, followed 
by a second one containing his youngest daughter 
and a lady-in-waiting. An enormous crowd lined 
the streets. As soon as the Imperial train stopped 
the aged Emperor helped her to alight. She 
extended her hand to him, and he kissed her on 
both cheeks and spoke words of affection to her. 
It was ten years since he had seen her at Cape 



398 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

Martin. Having introduced the members of her 
suite to him, she chatted for a moment with 
Archduchess Marie Valérie, and then, leaning 
on the Emperor's arm, she walked slowly towards 
the carriage, while the crowd applauded vigorously. 

In 1907 she had an interview more impressive, 
because it must have awakened in her memory 
strange recollections. We refer to her meeting 
on the confines of Norway with the Emperor 
William II, the grandson of him who had dis- 
possessed her of her throne and deprived her of 
her power. 

In the same year the French Press was greatly 
agitated on learning the news that a judgment of 
the Court had decided after thirty years of litigation 
that the ex-Empress Eugénie was entitled to 
recover from the national museums a certain 
number of valuable objects of art that belonged 
to her. This unexpected claim provoked more 
surprise than sympathy in France. 

At certain intervals 1 the Empress has paid 
discreet and furtive visits to Paris. Yielding to a 
characteristic obsession, she chose to reside opposite 
the garden of the Tuileries that had been the jewel 
of her domain. What powerful reason urged her 
to come there each time to contemplate the picture 

1 As recently as 1908 she went to Ceylon in search of sun 
and warmth which she finds in winter at Cap Martin on the 
Mediterranean shores. 



THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 399 

of her own ruin and of her by-gone splendour ? 
" I walk every morning," she answered, as this 
question was put to her. 1 " I walk in the garden 
of the Tuileries looking for the spots where my 
child was wont to play." Besides this reason she 
could invoke others, and proudly say, " My destiny 
is ruined, but I wish to rise above the events of 
such destiny. I shall return to Paris whose incense 
burnt before me. I shall look upon this people 
that has disowned me. I shall live until the end 
upon my impressions and my recollections." There 
is undoubtedly greatness and dignity in this proud 
attitude which masters facts and lives them down. 

1 Madame Octave Feuillet relates another saying of the 
ex-Empress, which shows how painfully disabused she is. 
When asked to grant an audience to some one whom she 
had not seen since misfortune overcame her, she smiled sadly, 
and said, " Yes, I know, they come to see me as they would 
go to see the fifth act of a drama." 



CONCLUSION 

During seventeen years Eugénie de Montijo, 
Empress of the French, occupied an extraordinary 
position in the world. She was not truly a great 
and telling character, because there was too much 
of the woman about her for that. I mean to 
convey that she was too much subjected to the 
variations of the feminine mind. 

It has been denied that she possessed natural 
wit, but she displayed such, however, and proved 
herself possessed of an intellectual disposition, 
quicker to rise than to develop and to extend. 
Her imagination was spontaneous and to a certain 
extent she was endowed with eloquence. In 
intimate circles she enjoyed the charms of conver- 
sation and was enthused by noble ideas. She 
completely lacked any literary spirit while at 
the Tuileries, for there she hardly read. She 
could hide a famine of thoughts under a profusion 
of words, and all through her reign she was at 
least able to adapt herself to the tone of a con- 
versation. She liked to talk on politics, literature 
or history, and to discuss abundantly, urged as 
400 




THE EMPRESS EUGENIE. 
From a photograph taken at Paris, 1906 



CONCLUSION 401 

she was by her foolhardy ignorance. During the 
first years of her reign her language was often in- 
correct, but always vivacious and highly coloured. 
She had no judgment, and a poor sense of pro- 
portion. In the heyday of her life her impulses 
governed her acts by leaps and bounds. The 
natural violence of her temper was held in check 
by assumed meekness enforced with great diffi- 
culty, and, as a result, she often transgressed. 
She did not know how to wait, and never 
learned to yield. Though not expansive, she 
could raise and precipitate her voice so as to 
appear exuberant and almost noisy. She was 
most changeable, and her thoughts seemed to fly 
from brightness to the darkest depths. Her 
stability was only shown by her unswerving 
adherence to the religious and domineerino- ideas 
with which she had been imbued in her youth. 

She was proud but not vain. Keenly sensitive 
to any encroachment upon etiquette that affected 
her rank, she became impatient and even rough if 
provoked by it, though she always endeavoured to 
heal the wounds that she inflicted. She often 
mistook haughtiness for dignity, so much did she 
apprehend not being deemed sufficiently Imperial. 
To the ladies of her Court she extended liberties 
that bordered upon licentiousness, and when she 
thought that she had been too indulgent towards 
them she became imperious, and some said 



4 02 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

tyrannical. Nervously sensitive, she would shed 
tears under the influence of music, the impulse of 
a strong impression, or of external circumstances 
either moral or intellectual. She was the victim 
of all the changes wrought by an irritable nature, 
and the results of this were not always confined 
to the domestic hearth. She had the good sense 
and tact not to introduce the frigidity of cere- 
monious etiquette into her conjugal intimacy, 
notwithstanding her haughty nature and the great 
airs which she assumed as befitting her position. 
Louis Napoleon was the Emperor in the eyes of 
the world, but she was his wife and spoke to him 
as to a husband, addressing him in the familiar 
"tutoyage" or "thee and thou" style. When 
no differences supervened between them on ac- 
count of the frivolity of the lord and master of 
the Tuileries she displayed towards him great 
attachment, not to say love. 

When Napoleon had once bestowed his affec- 
tions he never sought to regain possession of 
them. Eugénie, on the contrary, was capricious 
in the bestowal of her favours. She recalled them 
as easily as she granted them, save in the case of 
a few of her intimate friends. On the whole, she 
remained faithful to the end, to true friendship. 
Thus in the most prosperous years of her reign 
she continued to visit Mme. Delessert, whose 
Orleanist tendencies were well known to her. 



CONCLUSION 403 

When taken to task about it she would say, " It is 
true, but she was very good to me before I 
attained my high position, and I do not forget my 
friends of yesterday." 

As a rule she was not as much loved by those 
who surrounded her as was the Emperor, and she 
was never very popular in France. The respect- 
ful and ceremonious demonstrations of which she 
was the object could not hide the sense of con- 
straint and silent resistance on the part of those 
whose duty it was to do homage to her. Hearts 
did not give themselves to her, and these com- 
pulsory acts of politeness were never warmed by 
flames of true affection. Through the days of her 
downfall and the long years of her exile, a few 
faithful souls remained firmly attached to the ex- 
Empress. She was sincere to a childish extent 
and always hated mendacity. She was the wife 
of a man who was systematically the incar- 
nation of calculated deceit. As early as 1837 
Baroness de Montel said of him, " Prince Louis 
Napoleon is a liar, like all the Bonapartes." She 
was aware that all those who came near her wore 
a mask, and this made her appreciate truth all the 
more keenly, though she did not admit that she 
should be spoken to with too much frankness. 
Whatever her prejudices and the evolutions of 
her character may have been, it is undeniable 
that she always spoke the truth, always acted 



4o 4 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

in a straightforward manner and kept every pro- 
mise that she ever made. 

Napoleon 1 1 1 had a good heart and remembered 
the services that had been rendered to him. He 
was more generous than the Empress, but had no 
regard for the truth. He had been badly schooled, 
and the example of his uncle was nefarious. 
Assuming that he was outside the law and above 
the law, that uncle had lost all moral sense. It 
was sacrificed to the exclusive desire for the 
attainment of success and domination. The soul 
of the first Bonaparte lacked true greatness 
because he discounted sincerity, and so little 
trusted others that he suspected the very appear- 
ance of true and good sentiments. He did not 
fear to lay down as a principle that he judged the 
qualities and capabilities of a man by his ability in 
lying. He liked to recall that when he was still a 
child, one of his relatives had prophesied that he 
would rule the world because he was such a liar. 
When speaking of the Austrian Chancellor, his 
diplomatic rival, he said, " Monsieur de Metternich 
is almost a statesman. He is a very good liar." 
Napoleon III also evinced surprise at any possible 
disinterestedness, and despising men, he was 
utterly indifferent to their morality or conscientious 
deeds. Eugénie would have inspired her son 
with loftier convictions. 

The personal courage of the Empress is un- 



CONCLUSION 405 

deniable. She afforded numberless proofs of it in 

circumstances that called for much abnegation, 

and in which she had no need to intervene. Her 

true courage and supreme contempt for danger 

were exhibited by her during the cholera epidemic 

of Amiens. There she won the gratitude of the 

French people, for during this trying time she 

displayed admirable valour and fortitude. When 

the son of Emile de Girardin was attacked at 

Biarritz by a contagious disease she went to see 

him, and leaned over the child with more affection 

than prudence. In the heyday of her prosperity 

the repeated attacks on the Emperor's life afforded 

her food for reflection upon the instability of 

human greatness. On the night of the 14th 

January, 1858, after the attempt of Orsini, the 

first words she spoke on leaving the opera were, 

" Do not trouble about us ; this sort of thing is in 

our day's work, but for Heaven's sake see to the 

wounded." Did she think while uttering these 

words that they would be repeated a thousand 

times, and thereby become a historical testimony 

to her courage ? Perhaps so. At any rate, she 

displayed great coolness and self-possession. 

No one denies that she was brave, but one 
cannot say that she was generous, although she 
behaved nobly and sometimes heroically in the 
dispensation of charity. She has been accused 
of prodigality and excessive parsimony. In the 



4 o6 THE LIFE OF AN EMPRESS 

most brilliant days of her Court she was accused 
of all its extravagance, but it was not remembered 
that this lavish expenditure brought into circulation 
the accumulated wealth of the privileged and self- 
indulging classes. On the other hand, when she 
curtailed her milliner's bill and endeavoured to set 
the example of thrift and prudence by starting a 
dressmaking room in the attics of the Tuileries, 
they called her a miser. The truth can be found 
between these two extremes. Her liberality was 
restricted when compared to that of the Emperor, 
and it is natural that when the Civil List was 
done away with she was less liberal in her 
donations. 

The Empress was not devoid of courage, will, 
and firmness, but, unfortunately, these qualities 
were invariably displayed in unfortunate circum- 
stances due to irreparable acts and ill-advised 
undertakings. Often they were called into action 
without good results, for, owing to a persistent 
fatality, all her attempts to impart to the Govern- 
ment an impulse in accord with her personal views 
on foreign politics had dire consequences for the 
general welfare of the country, and the stability of 
the existing order of things. How much better 
it would have been if the Empress had not 
thrown herself into the turgid waters of politics, 
which were made more troubled still by her 
turbulent interference ! 



CONCLUSION 407 

An ardent Catholic, a Catholic belonging to 
the times and country of Philip II, she defended 
the Pope with an energy as much to be deplored 
as it was useless. With both hands she hurled 
France into the Mexican abyss. She caused 
dreadful shocks, and jeopardized precious alliances. 
The thousand and one documents filed in the 
archives of Farnborough, and all the testimonies 
they contain concerning people and things, will 
not shake the foundations of the historical state- 
ments made in these pages. But others will say 
with us, she was a woman, she felt but did not 
reason, she acted but did not realize whither her 
acts and impulses would lead the Emperor, 
France and herself. 



INDEX 



Aguardo, Count, his love for 
Eugenie de Montijo, 32. 

Alba, Duchess of. See Montijo, 
Francesca de. 

Alexander II, Czar of Russia, con- 
versation with Bauer on the 
Mexican campaign, 247. 

Arles-Dufour, M., converses with 
Queen Augusta on the German 
situation, 254. 

Augier, Emile, produces La Phili- 
berte at Compiègne, 194. 

Augusta, Queen of Prussia, her 
indignant attitude towards the 
Court of Berlin, 253-254. 

Bauer, Abbé Bernard, first meeting 
with Eugénie, 26 ; meets the 
Empress of Austria at Geneva, 
155 ; failure to influence the 
Empress Eugénie to interfere in 
the Mexican question, 234 ; con- 
versation with Alexander II on 
the Mexican campaign, 247 ; 
asked to officiate at the opening 
of the Suez Canal, 269 ; peti- 
tions unsuccessfully the Empress 
Eugénie to obtain promotion for 
a protege, 279-282 ; impressions 
of the ex-Empress at Mentone, 
395-396. 

Bernstorff, Count de, leads the 
exiled Empress to hope for an 
early restoration of peace, 319. 

Beust, Count de, discouraged by 
an imprudent remark made by 
Eugénie, 257. 



Beyle, Henri, {Stendhal), his 
acquaintance with Eugénie de 
Montijo, 13-18. 

Biarritz selected as a watering- 
station by the Empress, 175 et 
seç. 

Bismarck, Prince, meets Napoleon 
III at Biarritz, 177 ; his opinion 
of Napoleon III, 253 ; discusses 
the German situation with 
General Ducrot, 254 ; his fore- 
sight as to the strength of France, 
290 ; conditions propounded for 
the army of Metz, 320 ; urges 
Thiers not to trust the Empress 
Eugénie, 324; entertains hopes 
of making more enduring his 
conquest of France, 341. 

Blessington, Lady, mentioned, 64. 

Bourbaki, General, warned by 
Napoleon III not to prepare war 
equipments, 293 ; released from 
Metz and reaches London, 323. 

Burgoyne, Sir John, conveys the 
Empress Eugénie to England in 
his yacht, 318. 

Canrobert, Field-Marshal, men- 
tioned, 246. 

Charlotte, Empress of Mexico, 
visit to the French Court, 240. 

Chelmsford, General Lord, appoints 
Prince Louis Napoleon on his 
staff at the Cape, 377. 

Chislehurst, 319 et seç. 

Clotilde, Princess, characteristics, 
85-87. 



409 



4io 



INDEX 



Crimea, War in the, 114, 131. 

Ducrot, General, discusses the 
German situation with Bismarck, 
254. 

Elizabeth, Empress Tof Awstria, 
conversations with Abbé Bauer, 
155 ; meets the Empress Eugénie, 
256. 
Espinasse, General, unfolds his 
plans for the repression of acts of 
Republican disloyalty, 150. 
Eugénie de Montijo, afterwards 
Empress Eugénie, acquaintance 
with Stendhal, 13-18 ; friendship 
with Mérimée, 24-25 ; her per- 
sonal attractions and early ambi- 
tions, 25 et seq. ; meeting with 
Prince Louis Napoleon, 35 ; 
betrothal, 46 ; marriage, 55 et 
seq. ; unpopularity of the union, 
65 ; Court etiquette, 70 ; the 
household, 74 ; strained relation- 
ship with Prince Jérôme and 
Princess Clotilde, 84 et seq. ; 
State receptions, 91 rf seq. ; per- 
sonal characteristics, 92 ; interest 
in spiritualism, 111-113; Court 
functions during the Crimean 
War, 114 ; incident at a perform- 
ance of Psyche, 118; philan- 
thropy, 128 ; journey to England, 
134 ; birth of the Prince Imperial, 
140 ; meets the Czarina of Russia 
at Stuttgart, 144 ; attempt on 
herlife, 146; pleads for the life 
of Orsini, 147-149 ; made Regent 
during the Emperor's absence in 
Italy, 152 ; her antipathy to 
Saint-Cloud, 160; at Fontaine- 
bleau, 164 et seq. ; removes her 
court to Biarritz, 175; hunt 
meetings at Compiègne, 183 ; 
interest in theatricals, 194 ; first 
efforts in politics, 200 ; departure 



for Scotland, 205 ; made Regent 
for the second time, 210 ; annoy- 
ance at Prince Napoleon's speech, 
212; Persigny incident, 218; 
religious zeal, 221 ; failure of pro- 
posed journey to Italy, 226 ; her 
interest in the Mexican campaign, 
228 et seq. ; enthusiastic welcome 
in Spain, 236 ; grief over the Mexi- 
can failure, 240 et seq. ; incident 
with Hyrvoix, Chief of Secret 
Police, 244 ; present at the Paris 
Exhibition of 1867, 250 et seq. ; 
visits the Austrian Court, 256 ; 
breaks down under insult offered 
to her son, 260 ; visits Corsica, 
262 ; attends inauguration of the 
Suez Canal, 264 ; in Egypt, 267 
et seq. ; return to France, 276 ; 
position restricted by the Liberal 
Cabinet, 278 ; discusses the fron- 
tier question, 292 ; influences the 
votes of the Ministerial Council 
in favour of war with Prussia, 
2 97 5 urges the Emperor to 
command the Rhenish army, 
304 ; makes no provision in the 
event of disaster, 306 ; hopes at 
time of the French defeat, 311 ; 
flight from the Tuileries, 314; 
seeks shelter at the house of Dr. 
Evans, 316 ; conveyed to England 
in Sir John Burgoyne's yacht, 

318 ; reaches Chislehurst, 319 ; 
receives letter from the King of 
Prussia desiring to restore peace, 

319 ; sends photograph of Hast- 
ings to Régnier, 321 ; defines 
her attitude in a letter, 324 ; 
belongings rescued from the 
Tuileries and returned to the 
Empress, 327 ; welcomes Na- 
poleon at Dover, 334 ; private 
fortune, 337 (note) ; hopes of 
early restoration to power, 340 ; 
present at Napoleon's death, 



INDEX 



411 



345 ; retires to Switzerland, 348 ; 
receives Madame Octave Feuillet 
at Arenenberg, 351 ; devotes her 
attention to her son's education, 
356 ; departure of her son to South 
Africa, 375 ; hears of his death, 
378 ; visited by Queen Victoria, 
381 ; reconciliation between her 
and Prince Jérôme, 385 ; leaves 
Chislehurst for Famborough, 392 ; 
builds St. Michael's Abbey, 393 ; 
her journeys abroad, 395 et seç. ', 
personal characteristics, 400 to end. 
Evans, Dr., shelters the Empress 
after her flight from the Tuileries, 
316. 

Feuillet, Madame Octave, visits 
the ex-Empress in Switzerland, 
348. 

Fleury, General, confers with the 
King of Italy as to the advisability 
of Eugenie's visit to Rome, 225. 

Fontainebleau made the official 
residence, 163 et seç. 

Forey, General, mentioned, 233, 
235- 

Francis Joseph, Emperor of Aus- 
tria, visited by Napoleon and 
Eugénie, 255-256 ; reception of 
Eugénie in 1906, 397. 

Franco-Prussian War, diplomatic 
relations broken off, and war 
declared, 301 ; fall of Sedan, 
3" 

Frossard, General, mentioned, 260. 

Genoa, Duke of, mentioned, 162. 

Goltz, M. de, mentioned, 180 

Gonzales of Cordova, mentioned, 
14. 

Gounod, Charles, mentioned, 188- 
189. 

Gramont, Duke de, French Am- 
bassador, confers with Bismarck, 



180; his action with regard to 
the King of Prussia's guarantee of 
good intentions, 294. 

Granville, Lord, proffers British 
mediation, 298. 

Guzman, Alphonse Perez de, men- 
tioned, 14. 

Halévy, Ludovic, at the theatre of 
Versailles, 118. 

Hausmann, Baron, amusement over 
Eugenie's story of her ancestry, 
176. 

Hohenlohe, Prince, discusses with 
Jérôme Napoleon the impending 
storm between France and 
Prussia, 290. 

Hortense, Queen, mentioned, 68. 

Htibner, Count, Austrian Ambas- 
sador, his presence at Court 
functions, 107-109; 115-116; 
202. 

Hyrvoix, Chief of Secret Police, 
reports to the Emperor condition 
of public opinion at the time of 
Maximilian's death, 243-245. 

Ismael Pasha, 264 (note) ; 265. 

Jablonovski, Prince, mentioned, 
201. 

Jérôme Napoleon, Prince, present 
at the opening of the Paris 
Exhibition of 1855, 135 ; ill- 
advised speech at Ajaccio, 212 ; 
declines to propose the health of 
the Empress, 216 ; discusses 
conflict between France and 
Prussia, 290 ; arrives at Chisle- 
hurst, 346 ; refuses guardianship 
of the Prince Imperial, 347 ; 
attends funeral of the Prince 
Imperial, 381 ; death, 385 ; his 
personality, 386-391. 

Juarez, Benito, President of Mexico, 
mentioned, 239 ; 242. 



4 I2 



INDEX 



Jurien de la Graviere, Admirai, 
mentioned, 234, 268. 

Kirkpatrick, Marie Manuela de, 
afterwards Countess de Teba and 
of Montijo, mother of Eugénie, 
her social position, 9 ; marriage, 
20 ; intimacy towards certain 
friends, 21. See also Montijo, 
Countess de. 

Kirkpatrick, William, of Malaga, 
mentioned, 19. 

Lebœuf, Marshal, mentioned, 296. 

Lepic, General, entrusted with the 
care of the Empress and the 
Tuileries, 304-305. 

Lesseps, Ferdinand de, 264 ; in- 
defatigable labours in connection 
with the Suez Canal, 268 et seç. 

Levé, Antoine de, mentioned, 14. 

Lhuys, Drouyn de, in Napoleon's 
cabinet, 102. 

London entertains Napoleon and 
Eugénie, 134. 

Louis Napoleon, Prince Imperial, 
birth, 140; note referring to his 
health, 250 ; incident at dis- 
tribution of school prizes, 259 ; 
his studies, 289, 353 ; anecdotes 
of his childhood, 358 ; political 
majority proclaimed, 362 ; views 
and resolutions concerning the 
future, 363 et seç. ; love episode 
with Miss Charlotte Watkins, 
369; departure for Zululand, 
372 j appointed on the staff of 
General Lord Chelmsford at the 
Ca pe. 377; death, 378; con- 
veyance of his body to England, 
3S0 ; his will, 382. 

Malmesbury, Lord, British Am- 
bassador, remarks on the vul- 
garity displayed at Court festivals, 
127. 

Mathilde, Princess, daughter of 



Trince Jérôme, disapproves of the 
Emperor's matrimonial intentions, 
S3- 
Maximilian, Archduke, afterwards 
Emperor of Mexico, accepts the 
Emperor Napoleon's terms, 233 ; 
execution at Quéretaro, 238-239, 
242. 
Menabrea, General, mentioned, 

220. 
Mérimée, Prosper, his friendship 
with the Montijos, 18, 22, 24 ; 
appointed Senator, 78 ; accom- 
panies Countess Montijo to 
Poictiers, 81 ; theatrical work at 
Compiègne, 195-196 ; treats of 
the Mexican question in his 
correspondence 232 ; writes to 
Panizzi regarding the manner in 
which Eugénie exercised the 
regency, 306. 
Metternich, Prince Richard de, 
prevails upon the Empress to quit 
France, 313 ; desires to be 
transferred to Vienna, 335. 
Mexican Campaign, encouraged by 
the Empress Eugénie, 228 et seq. ; 
death of the Emperor Maximilian, 
238-239, 242 ; its probable 
influence discussed, 247. 
Miramon, Madame de, relates the 
details concerning the execution 
of Maximilian and her hushand 
at Quéretaro, 242. 
Moltke, Baron von, mentioned, 

136. 
Montijo, Count de, inherits wealth 

of Don Eugénio, 22. 
Montijo, Countess de, makes pro- 
vision for her daughters, 23-24 ; 
acquaints M. de Rochelambert of 
Eugenie's betrothal, 47 ; omitted 
from the honours list, 80 ; in 
Madrid, 81. See also Kirkpatrick, 
Marie M. de. 
Montijo, Francesca de, afterwards 



INDEX 



413 



Duchess of Alba, acquaintance 
with Stendhal, 14-18. 

Morile, Count de, mentioned, 16. 

Morny, Count de, distributes sine- 
cures and honours to his friends, 
100 ; death of, 258. 

Mouchy, Duke de, note concerning 
his marriage with Princess Anna 
Murat, 178. 

Muller, Charles, founds La Liberté 
journal in Paris, 291. 

Murat, Princess Anna, note concern- 
ing her marriage, 178. 

Napoleon III, Emperor, first 
meeting with Eugénie, 35 ; court- 
ship, 37 ; various marriage pro- 
jects, 41-44 ; betrothal to Euge- 
nie, 46 ; marriage, 55 et seq. ; un- 
popularity of the union, 65 ; 
extravagance and pomp of the 
Court, 67 ; distribution of titles 
and dignities, 74 et seç. ; State 
balls, 91 et seq. ; Court functions 
during the Crimean War, 114 et 
seq. ; journey to England, 134; 
meeting with Alexander II, 
143 ; attempt on his life, 146 ; 
departure to Italy, and regency 
conferred upon the Empress, 151 
et seq. ; return to Saint-Cloud, 
158 ; meets Bismarck in Biarritz, 
177 ; makes the Empress Regent 
for the second time, 210; leaves 
for Algeria, 211 ; attitude towards 
the Roman question, 224 ; in- 
cident with Hyrvoix, Chief of 
Secret Police, 243-245 ; present 
at the Paris Exhibition of 1867, 
250 et seq. ; visit to the Austrian 
Court, 256 ; fails to realize pending 
political dangers, 282 et seq. ; 
warns General Bourbaki not to 
prepare war equipments, 293 ; 
advocates peace to the Ministerial 
Council, 297 ; unpreparedness for 



war, 300 ; assumes command of 
the frontier army, 304 ; mis- 
fortune at Sedan, 311 ; accused 
of accumulating vast wealth, 326 ; 
note concerning his benevolence, 
327 ; arrival at Dover, 333 ; takes 
up residence at Chislehurst, 335 ; 
confident that his exile would be 
of brief duration, 340 ; makes 
calculation for a return to France, 
342 et seq. ; death, 345 ; funeral, 
348. 
Nigra, Ambassador of Italy, prevails 
upon the Empress Eugénie to quit 
France, 314. 

Ollivier, Emile, President of the 
Ministerial Council, mentioned, 
293 ; opposes Eugenie's bellicose 
determination, 310. 

Orsini makes an attempt on the 
lives of Napoleon and Eugénie, 
146-149 ; executed, 149. 

Ossuna, Duke de, mentioned, 21 ; 
seeks the hand of Eugénie, 33. 

Pajol, General, disapproves of the 
Prince Imperial's departure for 
Zululand, 374. 

Paris Exhibition of 1867, its brilli- 
ance and success, 249 et seq. 

Persigny, Duke de, disliked by the 
Empress, 192 ; his hostility to the 
regency of the Empress, 217. 

Pius IX, becomes godfather to the 
Prince Imperial, 140 ; declines 
to receive a visit of the Empress 
on political grounds, 226. 

Régnier, M., receives a photograph 
of Hastings from Eugénie, 321. 

Rouher, Eugene, entrusted with the 
leadership of the Bonapartist 
party, 354. 

Saint-Cloud disliked by the 
Empress, 160 et seq. 



414 



INDEX 



Selves, Madame de, announces the 
proclamation of the Republic, 

313- 
Sophia, Queen of Holland, writes 

to the Emperor on the peril of 

France's foreign policy, 282-283. 
Stendhal. See Beyle, Henri. 
Suez Canal, inauguration of, 264 

et seq. 

Teba, Countess de. See Kirkpatrick, 
Marie Manuela de ; and Montijo, 
Countess de. 

Thiers, Louis Adolphe, mentioned, 

293. 324, 341. 
Turr, General, makes diplomatic 



efforts to secure the peace of 
Europe, 2S4-286. 

Verly, Colonel, witnesses a caprice 
of the Empress, 121-122. 

Victoria, Queen, receives the French 
sovereigns at Windsor, 134. 

Watkins, Charlotte, love affair 

with the Prince Imperial, 369. 
William, King of Prussia, desires to 

restore peace after the French 

defeat, 320. 
William II, Emperor of Germany, 

meets the ex-Empress in Norway, 

398. 




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